American Express shows support for Vlad Jr.

By helping baseball's top prospect feel welcomed, the brand hopes its global positioning will resonate with Canadians.


American Express wants to show that it has customers’ backs – a central tenet of a new unified global brand it rolled out last May – through a video series featuring baseball prospect Vladimir “Vlad” Guerrero Jr., who made his major-league debut in Canada this spring.

Guerrero Jr., son of baseball hall-of-famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr., is considered one of the top prospects in the sport. Though he was born in Montreal (where his father played for the Expos), he was raised in the Dominican Republic, and when he was called up to the Toronto Blue Jays in April, he had lived a good part of his life abroad, immersed in Spanish.

Returning to Canada, then, was a bit of an adjustment. So Amex wants him – and his fans across the country – to know he’s got the support of the financial services company.

A first spot dropped this week showing fans welcoming Guerrero Jr. back to the country and expressing their support in the language he’s most comfortable in – Spanish. Another video appearing on IGTV features the rookie enjoying a variety of distinctly “Canadian eats,” such as poutine, ketchup chips and tourtiere, and laying down his verdict on how good they are.

North Strategic is leading social media, PR and influencer marketing, and its sister company, Notch Video, produced the social creative. Media is being led by UM.

The early efforts are part of a broader campaign that will roll out through December 2020. Additional assets will feature Guerrero Jr. enjoying the benefits of being an American Express card member, through dining out, shopping, attending a concert, travelling and other activities, says Lauren Dineen-Duarte, director of public affairs and communications at Amex Canada. Other social videos will focus on “getting [fans] to know Vlad better,” including one of him explaining Dominican baseball slang and another about his experience moving to Toronto.

“The series, as a whole, is part of the larger strategy to ensure we’re demonstrating how we have our card members’ back, how we help them get the most out of life,” Dineen-Duarte says.

The campaign comes roughly one year after Amex unveiled “Powerful Backing: Don’t Live Life / Don’t Do Business Without It,” a global platform developed by New York-based Mcgarrybowen and managed in Canada by Ogilvy, which aimed to bring a global consistency to its communications and assert itself as more of a “relationships brand.”

That work also had a strong social and influencer component, part of a strategy to reach younger customers and present itself in a more modern way, Dineen-Duarte says.

“Our customers are really technologically savvy and interested in social media and I think that we really focus on what we found works best, which is a mix of different assets and a number of different channels. Facebook is still a huge driver for us, but more and more we’re seeing that Instagram plays really well for us, both from a brand awareness perspective, as well as for remarketing.”

While last year’s platform was rooted in more of a global approach, Dineen-Duarte believes the new focus on a baseball prospect in Canada is merely an evolution of that work.

“We’ve always focused on making sure that we’re specifically working with influencers and notables that can bring the brand story to life in a meaningful way for the Canadian market,” she says. “It’s a balance between [being part of] a larger global brand campaign, but making sure that we’re looking to ways to highlight what that means for Canada.”