Amex Snowflake Badge

21 January 2014

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges: American Express Gets Real Flaky

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Guy Who Wears Out His Credit Cards Too Soon…

I dig my American Express card. Really. It enables me to buy pallets of cat litter at Costco, which won’t accept any credit card except AmEx. It extends warranties, so when my MacBook fried after the initial warranty expired (how predictable), AmEx paid for the repair. And when it comes to online security, I trust no card more than AmEx.

So why’d they have to go treat me like a 13-year-old?

I recently got an email invitation to Community @Amex — “a place for Card Members to share tips and advice with each other for getting the most out of Card Membership.” Just look at these irresistible benefits:

• Share Experiences: Which Card benefits do you like most? Tell your story.

• Ask Questions: Get suggestions for an upcoming trip or using points.

• Make Connections: Follow people you find insightful and converse with fellow Card Members.

Be still my beating heart! Yes, I can’t think of a better way to spend time than bonding with people… who have the same credit card issuer as I do. Hey, I heard it’s a lonely planet, so we gotta make friends somewhere. So sorry, friends/fans/followers/and other f-words in my social networks, I’m rolling with my new set @Amex!

Now here’s the real hook: if I join any discussion before January 31, American Express will give me… drum roll please … a “limited edition Snow Stopper 2014 Badge.”

I nearly fainted when I read that and saw this scintillating preview…

Amex Snowflake Badge

Oops, I wonder if I should have publicly shared 4126_snowflake.png (aka “limited edition Snow Stopper 2014 Badge”) here, because that doesn’t make it so limited edition now, does it? Damn, that must have just killed its resale value. Because here in 2014, no gift from a giant financial institution is more treasured than a snowflake graphic. All I need now is a pair of scissors and a thousand printouts and I can decorate my Xmas bush for next year.

Now, I know that badges helped propel Foursquare, the world’s second-most annoying social tool (the first being Klout, of course). I know Foursquare’s badges motivated otherwise sane adults to share their current locations with absolute strangers, including stalkers and home burglars. So if a startup could achieve so much human progress with badges, think what an established and esteemed brand like AmEx could accomplish?

I also know that we’re in the midst of the Social Media Error Era, and that social media has brought everlasting peace and democracy to the entire Middle East, replaced all annoying advertising with permission-based conversations, and forever eliminated white deodorant stains on black T-shirts. Social media is now as essential to life as clean water and Barry Manilow songs. And since the original coding for Friendster and Bebo and MySpace must now be available for a song (or perhaps a Snow Jobber badge), why shouldn’t a financial institution follow in their august footsteps? The world can never have enough places to share photos of breakfasts!

So thank you, American Express, my urge to feel 13 again wasn’t fulfilled by merely trolling and cursing in YouTube comment sections. Your snowflake badge really took me back. Now if only you could also get me an original Mattel Football 2, an 8-track cassette of Foreigner 4, and a date to the 8th grade dance, that would complete me!

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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Chris Blair
10 years ago

Thanks for the laugh Prof! One does wonder sometimes about the world of social media.

PS Amex isn’t accepted at many of my favourite shops but after this campaign it may be.

10 years ago
Reply to  Chris Blair

Thanks for reading and the comment! I live to amuse…