American Express is one of the biggest players in the world of advertising. Its ad spend is upwards of $2.4 billion annually, earning it a spot on AdAge’s list of world’s largest advertisers in 2016. With ten-figure ad spend, it’s no surprise that American Express has positioned itself at the forefront of the rapidly growing $1B Instagram influencer marketing industry.
In this case study, we explore how American Express leverages the influence of hundreds of top Instagram influencers “#AmexAmbassadors” in order to promote its Platinum card to consumers.
Amex’s rewards program is core to its customer acquisition and retention strategy, and influencer marketing is the perfect vehicle to market it. In the extremely competitive credit card industry, providing premium rewards such as exclusive event tickets, luxurious travel upgrades, and other perks to privileged card holders and is one of the best ways to draw in high-spending consumers.
Top Instagrammers and celebrities emulate the core elements of Amex’s Platinum rewards program messaging. They lead luxurious lifestyles, travel often, and enjoy special privileges. Many of their followers envy their glamorous and seemingly perfect lives. The #AmexPlatinum rewards program is a seamless extension of the coveted influencer lifestyle. By posting about extravagant airport lounges and events where they receive exclusive access to (through Amex platinum rewards), influencers encourage their followers to become Amex customers and seek out those same perks.
American Express partners with Instagram accounts of all sizes and topics. From mega-celebrities like Shaq, who has over 5 million followers, to niche micro-influencers like Corrine Stokoe, who has under 100,000 followers, American Express has done it all. To date, Amex has partnered with hundreds of Instagrammers across a wide range of categories, including fashion, travel, interior design, food, pets, photography, and lifestyle.
To maximize the effectiveness of its campaigns, American Express has developed long-term partnerships with certain influencers, or “#AmexAmbassadors.” These ambassadors are invited to exclusive American Express parties, trips, and experiences (all of which are documented on Instagram, of course). This strategy adds a level of consistency to its campaigns, and turns these influencers into the face of the brand. A few of the most frequently used #AmexAmbassadors are:
Platinum cardholders enjoy complimentary access to Centurion Lounges at airports around the country. These deluxe airport lounges provide gourmet food, quiet workspaces, wifi, and even shower suites.
American Express recently hosted an event in New York City to celebrate the opening of two new Centurion Lounges, in Philadelphia and Hong Kong. Several top Amex ambassadors, including Adam Gallagher, Julia Engel, and Blair Eadie, attended and posted about the party using #TheCenturionLounge.
Additionally, in March Amex Platinum cardholders enjoyed a Centurion Lounge pop up at Deer Valley that featured wine and chocolate tastings, ski lesson from Olympians, and warming stations. There were several American Express ambassadors in attendance who posted about the extravagant pop up.
The Museum Of Ice Cream opened in Los Angeles last month, and American Express Platinum cardholders enjoyed early access to the popular attraction before it opened to the public. Seven American Express ambassadors attended and posted on behalf of Amex, generating excitement for both the museum and the Amex Platinum card. This campaign highlights the exclusive privileges Platinum cardholders enjoy.
Amex Platinum perks don’t end there. In a Platinum card campaign, American Express activated top influencers known for their taste in high fashion and culture to demonstrate that an Amex card will grant individuals access to the most exclusive, highly sought after events, such as sold-out Broadway show, Hamilton.
These influencers, such as glamor fashion Instagrammer Julia Engel, Tanzanian beauty queen Flaviana Matata, and couture designer Christian Siriano, all posted on about their exciting trip on Broadway. Each influencer captioned the “one-of-a-kind” experience that was Hamilton and used #AmexPlatinum and #AmexAmbassador in their post.