Ad campaign for American Express card delivers much-appreciated smiles.
December 7, 2009
While I struggle to understand the relevance of American Express in our modern world I absolutely adore their new TV campaign, which I’m calling “Smile.” These spots have been running for several months now and yet I stop everything to watch when one comes on. Don’t you? The imagery is, in a word, lovely. Not in a baroque way but pure, unfettered and almost childlike in it’s simplicity. A series of inanimate objects appear, first depicting sad faces, which then become smiling faces. A soothing voiceover addresses our fears regarding credit card purchases and then assuages them. Throughout we hear the hypnotic Cello Suite No. 1 by Sebastian Bach.
That’s it. No special effects. No celebrities. Nothing but inanimate objects subtly propped to mimic smiley faces. While there are no actual people in the commercials these spots illicit more humanity than just about anything on the air. They are masterpieces.
Appropriately, it was my 11 year-old daughter who first brought the campaign to my attention. She asked me if I’d done it (alas, no), telling me it was her favorite TV commercial. A month later I got the same question from an in-law over Thanksgiving dinner. She, too, adored the campaign.
I believe this is the work of Ogilvy & Mather in New York, though my online searches failed to produce credits. Yet, everyone responsible deserves praise: the writer, the art director and especially the director. (If anyone can provide names please do.)
The last time I was so moved by an ad campaign was when Saturn launched “a different kind of Car Company.” Then as now the awesome power of TV proved itself without so much as breaking a sweat.
There is sincerity about Amex’s work, which belies the rampant turmoil and cynicism gripping the financial (and advertising) world. Kudos to American Express and their advertising agency for giving us pause to smile. In my novel, The Happy Soul Industry God wants an ad campaign to market Heaven. Something like this would’ve done quite nicely!