AmEx Unleashes New Image, Direction by Bowen

NEW YORK — The $100 million “Make life rewarding” campaign from American Express attempts to capture the “largesse and entirety” of the brand’s services beyond the card, said Gordon Bowen, the architect of the new work.

The TV and print effort, which focuses on how AmEx makes life easier for members, replaces the 6-year-old “Do more” campaign.

At the client’s request, Bowen was enlisted to work on the campaign as a freelance creative at Ogilvy & Mather. Bowen and the former Ogilvy team that created the famous 1987 “Portraits” print campaign have been reunited and again tapped Annie Leibovitz to shoot the images. However, unlike the “Portraits” ads, each of which focused on a single celebrity, the new print work — breaking in April magazines — was shot in black-and-white, news-photography style. It captures pairs of people in a moment of accomplishing their life’s dream, Bowen said.

The first ad shows director Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, his partner at Imagine Entertainment, and makes reference to their Oscar-nominated film, A Beautiful Mind, Bowen said.

Steve Hayden, vice chairman at Ogilvy, said the print work will celebrate successful partnerships in Hollywood, the arts and sciences, and business.

“Gordon and his team [which includes Adrian Pulfer and Lynn D’Angel] grew up with the brand, and they’ve done some of its most important work,” Hayden said. “It’s like having your alumni come back to campus. It’s a positive and rewarding relationship.”

Two TV spots broke last Friday and seven others will roll out during the next six weeks and feature music from various popular recording artists.

A spot called “Crazy Love” shows a man who gets snarled in Rome traffic while en route to the airport. AmEx’s travel service gets him on another flight so he returns home in time to give his lady friend a locket. Another spot shows a father and son doing their weekly Saturday shopping.