American Express Presents the Breakthrough
American Express introduced the new Business Gold Rewards Card in October of 2008. Unlike competitive products, the Business Gold Rewards Card offers incentives and benefits based on the amount of business activity that appears in cardholder accounts.
Amex defined its target market as owners and managers of well-established companies with between three and 50 employees and worked together with The Globe to create an integrated communication strategy that positioned Amex as a small business champion. Our Marketing Solutions Group created two compelling vehicles--a dedicated weekly newspaper page and a content-rich microsite--in which Amex could demonstrate its expertise on a wide variety of small business topics.
Below: Howard Grosfield, vice president and general manager, small business services, American Express Canada and International, talks about the Breakthrough project and how Amex's partnership with The Globe resulted in significant growth of their brand awareness in the small business sector.
The SolutionMSG recommended a program that would deliver inspiration, instruction and analysis--in equal measure--to small business owners and managers. Their aim was to provide content that would motivate and equip readers with the information and tools they needed to achieve their goals.
The result was the Breakthrough, a campaign that demonstrated how key insights, innovations and strategies can serve as catalysts for change and take small businesses to the next level.
The Breakthrough launched nationally in October 2008 in the Report on Business section of our newspaper, and on a microsite linked to from reportonbusiness.com. (An additional component, Breakthrough editorial in Report on [Small] Business magazine, began running in November). The campaign also included a high-profile luncheon for small business leaders that featured special guest Sir Richard Branson.
How It Worked
The Newspaper Component
MSG worked closely with The Globe's business editorial team to develop a regular feature that ran every Tuesday in the Report on Business section of our newspaper between October and May 2009.
Each week, a Report on Business writer analyzed a significant development in the life of a small business--events like securing a huge account, completing a major expansion, recruiting a top-tier CEO or winning a high-profile honour. The articles explored the risks and rewards inherent in events that can propel small businesses to the next level.
Full-page branded American Express ads ran next to every Breakthrough installment, which occasionally also included an Amex-sponsored advertorial. These advertorials featured Amex-selected company profiles and case studies presented in a manner that was distinct from editorial but conceptually tied to the "breakthrough" theme. Meanwhile, co-branded Globe and Amex ads ran throughout in the newspaper to promote the Breakthrough online and related vehicles, like the Small Business Summit that was held Oct. 21, 2008.
The Online Component
Breakthrough articles that appeared in print encouraged readers to explore related content on a special area of ReportonBusiness.com for more detailed content and a host of interactive features.
Online, The Breakthrough included not only original articles, posted the same day they appear in the paper, but also related polls. Throughout the week, we posted additional content, including Q&As between an industry expert or business school academic and profiled entrepreneurs, responses to reader questions for that week's expert or academic, live online reader discussions with profiled entrepreneurs, tips of the day and teasers for upcoming content.
Additional interactive features like photo galleries, video podcasts, a big-box branded Amex ad and a professional social networking platform added even more depth and richness to the destination. The microsite also included content from the Amex-sponsored advertorial that originally appeared on the Breakthrough page of Report on Business in our paper.
The Magazine Component
Report on [Small] Business magazine ran a regular editorial feature that combined the strongest elements of the Breakthrough's newspaper and online content. The first installment, for example, explored "five destiny-changing events and how to safely navigate them."
RO[S]B articles encouraged readers to explore additional Breakthrough content in the paper and at the microsite, and was in turn promoted by an ad that ran in our newspaper. Meanwhile, branded Amex ads ran in the publication and in Report on Business magazine.
The Experiential Component
To give the Breakthrough even more visibility, the Globe and Amex developed a high-profile event that gave American Express Business Gold Rewards Card representatives the chance to enjoy significant "face time" with their key target audience.
Together, they hosted a luncheon for 250 small and midsized business owners on Oct. 21, 2008. The event was promoted using e-mail blasts to selected names mined from Globe and Mail and Amex databases, and in co-branded ads that ran in our newspaper.
The Breakthrough Small Business Summit gave attendees a chance to learn first-hand from entrepreneurial legend Sir Richard Branson. Sir Richard was part of a special panel discussion led by Report on Business editor John Stackhouse, participated in an on-stage one-on-one with Stackhouse, took questions from the audience, and was interviewed by ROB writer Dawn Calleja.
The Promotional Marketing Component
All entrepreneurs and experts who were interviewed for Breakthrough articles received a digital package of pictures, links and logos that they could use to promote their participation on their own sites or blogs, or in press releases. The package both enhanced their prestige and, at the same time, helped generate traffic from non-Globe-affiliated vehicles to the Breakthrough microsite.
The ResultsBetween September and December 2008, our website delivered more than 9 million ad impressions promoting the microsite. Meanwhile, the Breakthrough content received nearly 200,000 page views from 130,000 unique visitors and delivered more than 710,000 ad impressions promoting Amex's site. The grand total of ad impressions intended to drive traffic to Amex's site was more than 18 million.
The mix of Globe properties played significant role in building advertising awareness for the American Express Gold Rewards card. The Globe newspaper was the key source of building awareness for the new American Express Business Gold Rewards Card followed distantly by TV.
Prompted awareness levels for specific creative executions (magazine, newspaper, online media executions) was strong, indicating that the message had particularly resonated with our audience.
Interest in applying for the American Express Business Gold Rewards card was also higher among those who recalled (with prompting) at least one of the ads.
The Small Business Summit With Sir Richard Branson was also an resounding success. In fact, it sold out in less than an hour after it was advertised!
The program ran through May 25, 2009, and reader participation was high, proving that the Breakthrough truly connected with its intended audience. Canadian small business owners enjoyed a unique resource dedicated to their specific interests and needs, while American Express found a new way to connect with this coveted demographic.