American Express Canada: Cloud 10 - Revitalizing the airport as an acquisition channel

Ogilvy & Mather

Situation analysis

Overall assessment

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Albert Einstein

Platinum Card losing its luster

American Express's premium card franchise had been lagging in Canada for some time. The reasons were several: slow but steady increases in our annual fees; intensifying competitive card offers with me-too benefits and impressive media spends; and a perceptual weakening of the historic link between American Express and premium travel value. The result was all too clear: a steady weakening of Platinum Card applications.

Of immediate concern, the annual fee on the Platinum product was set to increase by a whopping 75% in June 2012 (rising from $399 to $699). Amex needed to protect its base of high-margin customers while reversing the decline in applications by attracting valuable new prospects at a faster clip than the brand was doing currently. It had long relied on the Airport channel as the perfect instrument for this sort of task: Canada's largest travel hub, Toronto Pearson International Airport, sees 35 million people flowing through each year and premium travel cardholders are typically high spending, affluent customers.