Traditionally associated with personal green and gold cards, American Express was – and remains today – an extremely strong brand. In Singapore, the appeal to the over 35 year old males was indomitable but it had also developed an image among younger people as being associated with ‘my father’ or ‘my boss’.

In 1998, a gap was emerging that was to enable American Express to bring its phenomenal financial and brand muscle to a broader audience – younger in age and younger in attitude – with product designed to better reflect the aspirations and requirements of a rapidly changing Asia.

Ogilvy & Mather developed a Brand Print – something that every Ogilvy client benefits from – which encapsulated the American Express essence “American Express isn’t for everyone, it’s for those who think bigger…” and merged it with the hopes and aspirations of the target: fun, excitement, aggression, attitude, young, optimistic and forward thinking.

Blue was born.

With a 4-point mandate to grow the Amex cardbase, to increase Blue cardmembers by up to 60,000 within the first six months, to build a more youthful image for American Express and to stimulate card usage among existing users, launching Blue was never designed to be easy.

Blue was born in June 1998 and offered the lowest interest rates in town with rates of up to half of the 24% rates that were being charged by other credit cards.

Ogilvy One was briefed to develop an 360° communication programme that would not only cut through in Singapore’s notoriously cluttered, competitive and aggressive market but could differentiate itself from the American Express Personal Charge Card.

Babies and bathwater spring to mind.

Differentiating the new product from the existing American Express offering, and moving to a younger target audience required delicate management and a deep understanding of the American Express Brand, the new product and of course, the target. It was important to move as much relevance into the new product as possible without cannibalizing the mother.

Through a mixture of emotional and rational benefits, the communications strategy did three things: It built the ‘Blue’ brand personality, it created desire and downloaded the hardcore messages: lowest interest rates, balance transfers and free first year waivers.

25-35 year old men and women with a youthful attitude and a confident approach to life subscribed to modern innovation without feeling that they were losing a level of tradition and financial security.

Blue had started the long and winding road to success.

The campaign put the target at the heart of the communications with a cool blend of the emotional: “Cool to be Blue” and the hard-headed rational: “Saves you money”. The benefit was clear: “Finally, a card that enables me to do what I want”.

The three-tier messaging strategy started by establishing the product personality, creating desire and informing. This gave way to the second tier of driving response and then activation and card usage.

These messages were delivered through the Ogilvy & Mather 360° Brand Stewardship system using a plethora of media from PR and to events, DRTV and of course a full CRM package.

The results were staggering. Within 12 weeks of launch, the original acquisition target was reached prompting the target to be revised upwards by 50%. Before the end of 1998, the revised target had also been met and transcended.

Blue continues to be a benchmark product and the launch campaign itself a model 360° campaign. The success of Blue continues today.