Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hiatus, New Beginnings and AMEX Dissapoints?

I apologize for the delay in posts. It's been an exciting time to be a part of B!G, after a great year there's some exciting new changes coming within the next few months. Stay tuned!

A little off-topic, but American Express, commonly seen as the purple elephant in the credit card world to consumers seems to have fallen into a little bit of a marketing snafu. If there are two areas that companies are truly falling short with respect to direct marketing methods, they're social media and live event/direct response. Consequently, both areas fall short in the same areas: they fail to deliver a positive response and high interaction with potential consumers.

American Express had the idea of giving away 30 pairs of complimentary tickets to anyone who showed up at the corner of King St. W and Simcoe St. at either 12:30pm or 4:30pm (15 pairs for each time slot).

The scene at 12:29pm kind of looked like the above. Four corners; one to rule them all. Regrettably I was on the wrong corner and by the time I saw the commotion it was all over. 15 pairs of tickets gone in an instant. 200 others were regrettably left out, looking stupid on a street corner. Why? I have no idea. The only hurdle to getting tickets was you'd have to tell the street team:

"American Express lets me realize my concert potential."

Sure there's a little branding thrown in there and some free publicity with the event, but does that benefit alongside 30 happy ticket holders justify the 500 people or so left feeling disappointed? That's not to say that 500 people are all going to go home and cut up their AMEX credit cards, but shouldn't there be a little bit more thought or effort put into trying to gain favorable brand associations? I'm not quite sure how many people left that intersection with the thought of how great AMEX's customer services are.

So what could have been improved upon? There are some critical factors for live events that must be well thought out and implemented:

1. Find a meaningful "catch" for your brand. Sold-out concert tickets the day before a great show fits great with both the concierge services AMEX offers, as well as their Front of the Line program. Brand association win.

2. Find a meaningful venue. The random location was fairly downtown without causing too much chaos. There was some chaos which is good when you're trying to engage with consumers. Familiarity breeds boredom.

3. Milk your attention. DMB fans had been waiting for almost half an hour for 3 seconds of action. At least give them a chance for some interaction, even if the chance of getting tickets is quite small. Maybe a karaoke contest is in order?

4. Ensure the continuity and strength of your message from steps 1-3. Consumers should have a very simple thought process; from catch (1), to engagement (2) to brand message deliverance (3). AMEX really delivered 1 and 2, but fell short on 3. Failure in any of the steps can mean failure for the entire project.

I really expected more from an otherwise innovative company like American Express. Although maybe I'm just bitter about not getting tickets.

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