American Express and Ogilvy. Charge!


“Take Charge” is the new campaign from American Express which eveyone by now should have seen. It uses a wonderful visual device of inanimate objects depicting smiley and “oh no!” faces — clothes lines, hand sinks, etc.   Ogilvy, American Express’s agency, has done an excellent job with this campaign replacing the irreplaceable “membership has it privileges.” Smiley faces is the visual idea.

The non-visual idea is about taking charge; a nice double entendre on controlling your finances and financial lot. The idea also pushes use of the American Express charge card – a card that must be paid off in full, not accruing dreaded interest. It also takes a swipe (sorry) at debit cards.

Now, American Express can give us all sorts of “take charge” tips and tutorials on not spending money or spending money smartly but the best way to take charge is to use a card that must be paid off in full. And Amex owns the paid in full card space.

There are still vestiges of “membership has it privileges” in the new campaign, but the muscle memory is about stepping up and “taking charge. The non-visual idea is brilliant, a no-brainer and has crazy long legs. The visual “facial” treatment, though a great creative launch may run out of steam. I hope not. I hope they find a way to keep it fresh, but it’s burning fast. Slow it down and take charge. Peace!