I only saw about 10 minutes of the Oscars. But fortunately, the ten minutes I watched included this brilliant ad featuring M. Night Shyamalan (of Sixth Sense, Signs, and Unbreakable fame). You can (and should) watch the ad here.
It grabbed my attention immediately. I was intrigued by the music and the characters. It's a terrific ad, perfect for the occasion.
But I wonder: why did American Express pay so much money to create and run a spot about M. Night Shyamalan rather than their card? Is his brand so much better than American Express that they had to borrow his popularity? Is it too hard to demonstrate a brand benefit or sales proposition for the American Express card while entertaining or creating an emotional connection? Would this ad (or any other in the My Life, My Card series) work any less if the product featured at the end was a Diner's Club or Discover Card? Why not include specific reasons to consider American Express?
"Branding advocates might claim that such an approach is "too rational," and therefore not suited to building an emotional connection with customers—the underlying assumption being that reason and emotion are somehow opposed. In fact, the opposite is true: just as they do in their interpersonal relationships, people only connect emotionally with companies that provide a reason to choose their products or services."
Both Discover and Visa have hit home runs using a rational point of difference to build a brand (money back and "everywhere you want to be"). But this effort fails to do that. Maybe I'm wrong. I like all the ads (and personalities) in the Amex series. But I'm not sure they help me like American Express. They don't give me a reason to reach for my Amex card rather than my Visa. Your thoughts?