AmEx’s Digital Push Teams Pharrell Williams With Spike Lee

UGC effort may drive millennials to concert livestream

American Express is bolstering its digital efforts leading up to its Unstaged series featuring Pharrell Williams, which culminates in a YouTube and Vevo-streamed concert on June 3.

While it has run these digital concerts for some time (it's the 14th Unstaged for the financial giant), the growth in Twitter and user-generated content the past couple of years is sparking new investments from the brand. AmEx has teamed the "Happy" star with director Spike Lee, who will lead production on the project from the concert at New York's Apollo Theater. It will be exclusively aired online.

"Over time, it’s evolved to where we’re bringing in more innovation and different ways to engage that at-home consumer," Deborah Curtis, vp of entertainment and sports sponsorships at American Express, told Adweek.

Music fans can access a digital photo signed by the singer in exchange for retweeting a message that AmEx will send out via the microblogging platform on June 3. This content can be unlocked through June 5 and is meant to serve as a digital memento after the concert airs.

The credit brand is also including a photo-sharing component to the campaign. Via a microsite, fans can upload a picture of themselves for the chance to be featured on stage during Pharrell’s performance. The microsite lets consumers use an image that can be pulled from their Facebook or Instagram account or via a photo that is saved to a desktop. The photo can then be edited to fit within a frame and shared on social networks.

A stream of the user-generated photos will eventually be displayed on a digital wall during the performance. 

The microsite will also house a series of video clips leading up to the event. Additionally, a feature was introduced last year for AmEx's program that rewards fans for tweeting the hashtag #AmexUnstaged. If the number of tweets with the hashtag hits a certain threshold before the concert, bits of content become available to digital viewers.

Whether the social and photo elements incentivize consumers enough to drive traffic for the concert remains to be seen. But AmEx's play shows how big brands are pulling together multiple digital facets for campaigns aimed at younger consumers who are increasingly primarily watching video from digital platforms.

"What we’ve uncovered in these live experiences is that there is a real opportunity with digital to scale them toward a global audience," Curtis added.