Wednesday, May 12, 2010


American Express

American Express is a diversified global financial services company best known for its credit card, charge

card and traveler's cheque businesses.

American Express was founded in 1850, in Buffalo, New York, as a joint stock corporation that was a merger of the express mail companies owned by Henry Wells (Wells & Company), William
Fargo (Livingston, Fargo & Company), and John Butterfield (Butterfield, Wasson & Company), as an express business.

In 1890, J.C. Fargo took a trip to Europe and returned frustrated

and infuriated. Despite the fact that he was president of American Express and that he carried with him

traditional letters of credit, he found it difficult to obtain cash anywhere except in major cities. Fargo went to

Marcellus Flemming Berry and asked him to create a better solution than the traditional letter of credit.

Berry introduced the American Express Traveler's Cheque which was launched in 1891 in denominations

of $10, $20, $50, and $100.

Following WW II, American Express was engaged by the US govt to bring back luggage of US personnel

abroad. An especially memorable initiative was Operation Pooch that involved shipping more than 10,000

adopted dogs back to the US for reunion with their owners.

In the early 1990s, through a joint venture with Warner Communications, American express helped fund the

start-up of MTV.

American Express is known for a number of advertising campaigns that make use of celebrities. Some

notable examples include ad campaign with comedian Jerry Seinfeld, webisodes in a series entitled "The

Adventures of Seinfeld and Superman."

In late 2004, American Express launched the "My life. My card" brand campaign (also by Ogilvy & Mather)

featuring famous American Express card members talking about their life.

Many American Express credit card ads feature a sample American Express card with the name "C F Frost"

on the front. This is not a fabricated name, as Charles F. Frost was an advertising executive.

American Express was one of the earliest users of cause marketing, to great success. A 1983 promotion

advertised that for each purchase made with an American Express card, American Express would contribute

one penny to the renovation of the Statue of Liberty.

The American Express later conducted a four-year Charge Against Hunger program, which generated

approximately $22 million for a charity addressing poverty and hunger relief.

In 2006, as part of Bono's Product Red, American Express launched the American Express Red Card with

campaign starred by Gisele Bündchen. The card, currently available only in the United Kingdom, makes a

donation to fight AIDS with every purchase made using the card.

In September 2007, Standard Chartered plc agreed to acquire American Express Bank Ltd, a commercial bank, from American Express Co.

In 1975, David Ogilvy of Ogilvy & Mather developed the highly successful "Don't Leave Home Without It"

ad campaign for American Express Traveler's Cheques, featuring Oscar-award-winning actor Karl


In 1999, American Express introduced the Centurion Card which is often referred to as the "black card,"

catering to an even more affluent and elite customer segment

Eleven Tears is a memorial built by American Express to remember its 11 employees who perished in

September 11 attacks.

In Boston in 1991, a group of restaurateurs, upset about what they felt were American Express' unfairly high

rates, staged a revolt that came to be known as the Boston Fee Party.

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