Is the New American Express Campaign Cause Marketing?

June 12, 2014 Posted by Jessica Shofler in Fundraising, News, Nonprofits

UnbankedAmerican Express recently released an advertisement titled “Spent: Looking for Change.” The ad watches more like a documentary about the high costs for low-income people living outside the traditional financial system. The film is narrated by Tyler Perry and follows four families who are “unbanked” or “under-banked” and must use alternatives to banking such as check-cashing services, payday lenders, pawn shops, and car title lenders.

The nearly 40 minute commercial is freely available online, features no brand content, and does not mention American Express until the closing minutes. An earlier version of the commercial featured no mention of American Express at all.

American Express’ group president for enterprise growth explained that the issue is “one we believe in pretty passionately.” American Express, he added, “wanted to create a documentary that brings to life this story in a way that a print ad or an article” could not. American Express has recently introduced products to address the concerns of the unbanked and the under-banked, but there is no mention of these products in the commercial.

This campaign may remind you of Chipotle’s recently commissioned web series about industrial farming.

Do you think the new American Express campaign will be more effective than traditional cause marketing? How could your organization use a documentary to tell its story?

NOTE: The information contained herein is not intended to be legal advice and the reader should know that no Attorney-Client relationship or privilege is formed by the posting or reading of this article which is also not intended to solicit business.

Casey Summar, Partner, The Law Firm for Non-Profits,1812 W Burbank Blvd, #7445, Burbank, CA 91506

One Response to “Is the New American Express Campaign Cause Marketing?”

  1. larrykaplan

    Interesting strategy. It’s a more subtle form than the image-boosting commercials you might see on TV for B2B companies (ie: Siemens or Cisco). The key to its effectiveness is how many people see it. I know that if I saw a 40 minute clip online, I’d pass on it — too long!