Friday, January 29, 2010

When Smiley Faces Make Everything Better...

Hi There!

Have you seen the American Express sad-smiley face commercial?  I adore it and can't get enough of it.  Since we're close, I'll admit that I've looked at it many times on YouTube because I marvel at its beauty, creativity, engagement devices and its complex simplicity.  

It's truly a well done commercial on a multitude of levels.  I'm relieved to find that I'm not the only one who feels the same!  If you Google it, you see that it made Time's Top 10 Commercials of 2009, mentioned in a few articles and now has a Facebook page.  Admittedly, only 80 people are registered fans but you get the picture.  I'd be interested to hear from you if you know of other commercials with Facebook fan pages.  I'm sure they are out there so please send them my way.

If you've seen the ad a million times like I have, you get drawn into the game of figuring out what the sad and smiley faces are...  all the while listening to the Card benefit claims reinforced by the voiceover: coverage if your purchases are damaged or stolen (via repair or credits to your account), Membership Rewards points for your purchases and peace of mind when you travel.

Did you notice the other engagement device at the end?  You know, the teaser with the Take Charge URL?  When you travel to the site, you immediately notice that the content is driven to back up the Card benefit claims I mentioned earlier.  If the commercial is a prospecting device, the site is a lead nurturing device.  It's not a mind reader -- yet -- but the prospect is free to navigate the site on his/her terms to learn more about the product based on the claims that resonated most, decide to take the plunge and apply for the Card.  There are a bunch of permutations and combinations and I'll let you play on your terms.

What do I find interesting about this experience?  There are some things that come to mind:
  • 360 and 365.  It's one of the many ways that AmEx is addressing 360 degrees of touchpoints 365 days per year that we discussed a little bit ago.  The TV viewer can't control when the commercial airs and the magazine reader can't direct what print ads are presented but he/she can determine when and where the site visit takes place.  
  • Consumer Control.  There is control as to how the site gets navigated and the number of visits just as there is control as to when the site visit(s) occurs. All in all, it's consumer driven marketing as opposed to AmEx driven marketing.  The consumer drives the order in which the messages are presented and absorbed.  It's true that AmEx introduces the thought but it goes absolutely nowhere if nobody bites.
  • Real People.  The landing page features stories from AmEx consumers.  Click on any icon and a clip pops up with a consumer's product endorsement.  Much has been said about online word of mouth chats between advocates and prospects.  I listened to a Loyalty 360 webinar this week about peer networks (Best Buy) and was pointed to Nielsen to learn more.  90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know while 70% trusted opinions posted online and 70% trusted brand websites.  Banner ads and other corporate content ranked much lower.  Data like this set have likely driven AmEx to deliver something that feels authentic or based upon consumer experience in the absence of an online peer community a la Best Buy.
I've listed these three above as conversation starters; there are likely more and if/when I think of them, I'll post it on the blog.  In the meantime, please feel free to share your observations on this with me.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

Parissa Behnia

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