29 September 2008

American Express Do-Gooder Campaign Leverages Customer Community with Social Media Tools

Claiming its the first company to launch a cause-related marketing campaign via a program benefiting the Statue of Liberty in 1983, American Express has been leveraging its customer community to support important causes for twenty-five years now.

This year's Members Project is yet another socially-minded campaign. American Express will split up $2.5 million amongst five different projects that "make a positive impact on the world." The online-only initiative allows any American to join the conversation and nominate their favorite do-gooder project.

American Express kicked off the Members Project by announcing results from a survey that showed 96 percent of Americans feel now, more than ever, the world needs "great ideas" to make a positive difference. In addition, 92 percent of respondents said they believe in the "power of ideas to help change the world."

So why is a credit card company bringing people together to share their ideas, passions and beliefs in order to help change the world?

The answer is offered by Jud Linville, president and CEO of Consumer Services at American Express: "...
it's not just about ideas; it's about all participants galvanizing their own personal networks - friends, family members, colleagues - to get behind the causes that are meaningful to them." This should also read: and to encourage our customers to spend more money with American Express while they're at it.

Tapping the power of human networks - what a brilliant case of good marketing and PR. Inspire customers, enable them, make them heroes. It's not a new tactic.

This year, American Express is making good use of
social media tools such as Facebook and MySpace to help people spread the word. They encourage customers to use photos, audio and video to enhance their nominations and promote their projects. The campaign will announce the Top Five projects at midnight tonight. From there, anyone can vote for their favorite project - the winners will be announced October 14.

To date, there are 1190 projects nominated by 213,522 nominations. There are 7651 comments on the discussion board.

I have to admit, I haven't voted, yet, but the Members Project has won my support as an American Express customer - I'm happy to align spending power with a company that prides itself on being a global "good citizen" by supporting worthy causes. After all, if I'm going to be spending money these days, I might as well help save the world, right?

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