Amex is looking to embed itself into the culture by sponsoring entertainment venues and experiences. It’s less about brand awareness, and more about being a part of extraordinary moments in their cardholders lives. Courtney Kelso, vice president of sponsorship marketing at American Express, recently shared his thoughts on the New York-based financial services company’s sponsorship interests:
Q: What determines Amex sponsorships?
A: We think about partnerships in terms of what overlaps with cardmembers’ passions. Our cardmembers are voracious consumers of entertainment, and music is a big area of interest. First and foremost, it’s about cardmembers and providing value for them.
Q: How about at the Grammy Museum? What is American Express’ brand presence there?
A: Slight. It’s minimal. For us, this was not about logo-slapping, or about getting our brand in front as many people as possible. It’s about supporting the community of artists and the Grammys, and also about access and benefits for cardmembers.
Q: Is American Express focused on building more bricks-and-mortar sponsorships with theaters, arenas and the like?
A: We do several venue relationships, but we also work with non-venue-specific partnerships. We have a new relationship with Front Line Management (which handles acts like Aerosmith, Christina Aguilera, and Guns N’ Roses, and is now part of Ticketmaster) that allows us to provide cardmembers access to touring musicians.
Q: What about sponsoring a specific tour or music act?
A: That’s a tactic a lot of companies use, but what we choose to do, rather than associate with one or two tours, is to associate with many acts that provide access to a lot of artists and genres through, for instance, Madison Square Garden, Frontline Management and AEG Live.
Q: So American Express doesn’t want to use these partnerships as a bullhorn for branding?
A: I would say that, for us, it’s not as much about brand presence, or “American Express presents,” it’s about the deeper relationship we can form [with these organizations].