American Express champions small businesses in content series

Who: American Express Canada and North Strategic, with Notch Video and The Globe Content Studio.

What: Passion & Persistence: Stories of Business Resilience, an online content series profiling three Canadian businesses and how they’ve successfully navigated the pandemic (with a little help from American Express, of course).

When & Where: All of the content is housed within a dedicated content hub on The Globe and Mail website, with profiles presented as an article and a documentary style video. Articles also appeared in the Globe‘s print edition on successive Fridays between Nov. 21 and Dec. 4, with promotion for the series continuing through Dec. 31.

Why: Like so many marketers this year, American Express was forced to abandon its marketing plans and start afresh when the pandemic hit. It didn’t have to completely re-think its approach, however, since it has made supporting small businesses one of the cornerstones of its marketing.

According to the recent American Express Business Resilience Survey conducted by The Nielsen Company, while 74% of businesses remain confident in the future of their business for the next one to three years, nearly 64% currently face pressing cash flow and financing problems as a direct result of the pandemic.

Globally, American Express doubled down on its commitment to small businesses early in the pandemic, launching a 12-week, US$200 million program called “Shop Small” that ran in six international markets, including Canada. That program also included what David Barnes, vice-president of advertising and communications at American Express Canada, described as the company’s largest-ever cardmember offer, designed to jumpstart spending at local businesses by making it more enticing to shop there.

“[W]ith this new series, Passion & Persistence we are diving even deeper into stories of entrepreneurship and shining a light on the resilience of Canadian small business owners,” said Barnes. “We wanted to lend our platform to help these businesses tell their stories on a national scale. We are very proud of our small business platform and the investment we have made this year. Looking to 2021, it will continue to be a major focus for our brand.”

How: The series profiles three Canadian small-businesses, B.C.-based superfood company Farafena, the direct-to-consumer luggage brand Monos, and Toronto restaurant Pai Northern Thai Kitchen, that are successfully navigating the rough waters caused by the pandemic.

“We know that it’s more important than ever to lend our platform to businesses that need our support,” said Barnes. “That’s why, with this series, we’re diving deeper into stories of entrepreneurship and shining a light on the persistence, adaptability and creative thinking business owners have shown over the last eight months.”

On the importance of content in its marketing strategy: “Branded content partnerships are an important part of our content strategy,” said Barnes. “We have collaborated with The Globe and Mail in the past, and as Canada’s most widely read newspaper, we knew they were the right partner for this campaign to help us bring these business resilience stories to life.”

And we quote: “We’re excited to be giving three business owners a platform to tell their stories to a national audience and our goal really is to provide value and inspire other business owners across Canada.” —David Barnes, vice-president of advertising and communications, American Express Canada

Chris Powell