Shopper Innovation Awards: American Express looks local

The credit card company wins a Silver and a Bronze for encouraging consumers to "shop small" in Toronto.

Silver: Best Global Adaptation
Bronze: Changing Behaviour

Even though 81% of Canadians are eager to support small local businesses in their community (according to American Express research), they aren’t aware of them, as many owners don’t know how to promote themselves. Amex, with its agencies High Road, Boombox Media and Mindshare, set out to change this with a campaign that rallied Torontonians to celebrate the uniqueness of their neighbourhood stores and “Shop Small.”

The campaign launched in April 2013, and Facebook and Twitter acted as program hubs for business owners and customers. More than 4,000 small businesses in Toronto joined the Amex Shop Small Network on Facebook, and a contest had consumers choose their favourite “Neighbourhood Gem.” In the end, a Leslieville florist won a one-on-one consultation with Facebook on how to promote its brand, along with an advertorial in Toronto Life.

Designed with a low-tech, grassroots look and feel, the campaign logo was at the heart of the marketing materials. Partnering with Citytv, Amex promoted “Shop Small” with a 15-second spot and with two live segments on Breakfast Television.

Amex distributed merchant tool kits to participating businesses, which included a program guide, window decals and point-of-purchase displays. Street teams distributed “Shop Small” tote bags in notable shopping districts and placed wild postings in high traffic neighbourhoods downtown.

The program generated more than 179 million impressions, 3,019 Twitter mentions, coverage of the program in 125 published articles and 26,432 new Facebook fans.


Advertiser: American Express Canada
PR agency: High Road Communications
Agency: Boombox Media
Media agency: Mindshare