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American Express flaunts video content via QR codes

September 11, 2013

The landing page for the QR code

American Express is mobilizing its Passion Project campaign via QR codes in the October issues of Food and Wine and Travel+Leisure Magazines.

The Passion Project helps support individuals with their unique projects and challenges. The QR code in the American Express ad directs readers to a YouTube video of one such individual, Helene Cornell, who renovates trailers and offers them on Airbnb.

“The [Passion Project] program reflects the findings of the recent American Express LifeTwist study, which revealed that Americans now believe that success is no longer rooted in a sense of arrival, but defined primarily by the experiences they accumulate and passions they pursue throughout their lifetimes,” said Nancy Smith, vice president of global media, content and community at American Express, New York. “The LifeTwist study also found that passion projects, defined as the pursuit of an interest or hobby, are considered an important ingredient to living a fulfilled and successful life by the vast majority of Americans – 75 percent.

“To bring these findings to life, we created the #PassionProject, a sustaining digital and social video content platform for American Express,” she said. “With #PassionProject, American Express celebrates those who believe that today’s successful life is about the journey and the experiences one has along the way.

“At American Express, we are taking an integrated approach to our content for the American Express brand campaign. All of our content is designed to create deeper relevance and engagement with potential new customers. For print, we are leveraging #PassionProject stories to drive people to additional digital video content that we’ve created for the campaign.”

Passion project
According to the American Express YouTube page, the Passion Project is supporting a new generation of makers, creators and mold breakers.

The Passion Project is running began on June 17 and is running through December 1. There are seven phases of submissions, and every individual enter up to five submissions per phase.

The print ad in Food and Wine

One can enter via the American Express YouTube page,, by uploading a photo of an idea for a passion project, explaining the project in 120 characters or fewer and explaining why the project is important to you in 500 characters or fewer.

After every submission period, a panel of judges will select ten entrants based on creativity/originality, quality of submission and fit to contest theme. Each winner will receive a $2,000 American Express Reward.

Helene Cornell, the winner showcased in the Food and Wine ad, explains in her YouTube video that she collects vintage trailers from the 50s and 60s and transforms them into livable accommodations for Airbnb travelers.

Not only is the Passion Project giving Ms. Cornell great publicity, but they also helped her get new supplies from Home Depot to help her renovate the trailers.

Each member of the Passion Project features a profile and how-to DIY video on the American Express YouTube page. According to Ms. Smith, the videos are meant to motivate, educate and inspire viewers to pursue their own passion projects.

A screenshot of Ms. Cornell’s video

Mobile Amex
American Express has leveraged mobile for everything from mobile payments to mobile offers to mobile ads. The company goes beyond the basics of mobile commerce and uses the medium for creative and new campaigns.

Last year American Express ran an iAd campaign to promote Small Business Saturday and drive consumers to shop from small businesses during the holiday season (see story).

Earlier this year at the 2013 IAB Mobile Marketplace, an American Express executive said that a mobile ad campaign generated a two-times lift in brand relevance and led to half a million add-to-calendar reminders. The exec also mentioned another campaign that used iAds to encourage cardholders to donate points to charities (see story).

The QR code for the Passion Project campaign follows in the iAds footsteps but builds on American Express’s past mobile initiatives.

“Our target audience for this campaign has a strong affinity for mobile devices,” Ms. Smith said.

“Video is the lead storytelling vehicle for the #PassionProject and brand advertising campaign as a whole,” she said. “With video consumption becoming a pervasive activity on mobile across the landscape, up 24 percent from last year, we recognized an opportunity to deliver video to our audience where they’re increasingly consuming it.

“The mobile media landscape and allows for full screen and engaging delivery of video, which helps break through some of the challenges with other channels. #PassionProject’s content strategy is socially rooted in nature, and with the intersection of social connectivity and mobility, we’re distributing great content that we want consumers to view and share from their mobile devices.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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