#SmallBusinessSaturday: US AmEx Project Arrives In UK

Less sponsorship, more partnership, American Express’ ‘Small Business Saturday’ initiative is one of the more ambitious contemporary brand-led partnership projects and 2013 sees the payments brand’s enterprise head across the Atlantic to the UK.


In this US, late November saw American Express promote its fourth annual Small Business Saturday – as it aimed to draw American’s away from global brand, big box retailers post Black Friday into the local coffee outlets, small toy shops and independent gift stores.


The twin objective is straightforward – support the local economy and use AmEx cards.


The 2013 US campaign, which builds on last year’s work by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Boulder, includes a touching 30-second TV commercial



Last week, the spot had generated an impressive 8 million-plus YouTube views.


This was supported by a raft of other work ranging from online film



to local in-store initiatives (including door badges and window posters, facebook page builders and YouTube video makers) and community experiences.


A new phase of the stateside project in 2013 was the ShopSmall.com element.



The new UK initiative takes a similar approach to encouraging consumers and AmEx card holders to shop local and independent in the run up to Christmas.


As an incentive, those spending more than £10 on their American Express cards on the day will get £5 credit.


While the American version took place on 30 November, the British equivalent was on 7 December and American Express launched an above-the-line promotional campaign created by agency Ogilvy.


The UK campaign kicked off with a 30-second TV ad featuring a voiceover asking people to ‘support the heroes of our high street and suggesting shoppers ‘think big’ and ‘shop small’.



Other elements of the campaign included out-of-home six-sheets across the London Underground, train stations and street billboards, regional radio ads.


The credit card brand’s creative across all these channels adopts its usual ‘illustrative/cartoon’ style.


The payments giant is also running a below-the-line campaign targeting card members and small businesses.


In addition there is a slew of digital work that spans Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and search.


One element of the online phase sees entrepreneur Sarah Willingham create a series of educational and idea-led short films about marketing, merchandising, partnerships and loyalty.


‘The films showcase a host of easy-to-implement ideas that are relevant to any business,’ says  Willingham. ‘The toy shop, florist, hair salon and café that we visited are already doing really well and it was a pleasure to be able to learn from them and share their ideas with fellow traders across the country.’


Each online film has a different theme – such as





or ‘Shop Layout’



There was also a Google+ Hangout American express led utility featuring micro business specialist and independent business ambassador Tina Boden and Ingenious Britain’s James Day discussing how both businesses and consumers can make the most of Small Business Saturday.



Like in the US (where partners included brands ranging from FedEx to ClearChannel), there was also a partnership support programme with other brand alliances in the UK – such as with O2’s Priority Moments Local.



The campaign even generated political support with national parliamentary and local MP backing the programme.





The objective is to create a framework for the entire project programme, the tools to participate and then build an activation campaign focused on the importance of small business and revolving around a consumer call to action at a local level.


This form of ambitious, brand-created project that is both business generator and potential client utility is rapidly becoming a major trend in the partnerships space.


Perhaps it has been spurred on partly by the last recession and partly by a backlash against big brand globalisation.


‘We’re excited that Small Business Saturday has made it to British shores and are delighted to be part of an initiative that celebrates the contribution small businesses make to our economy and local communities,’ says American Express UK brand communications director Melissa Weber.




US Campaign Website



UK Campaign Website



Campaign Facebook Page



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