Thursday, February 4, 2010

Joe Bihlmier

Vice President/Global Media — AMERICAN EXPRESS


Joe Bihlmier may have begun his career on the agency side with stints at McCann Erickson, Y&R and Mediaedge, but now after a decade with American Express, he is changing how the company uses media.
He has made a strong commitment to digital media with nearly one-third of the international marketing budget moving in the direction of new online experiences from social media to new content opportunities — whether it’s a Facebook app or a YouTube project in Mexico with user generated video awards in the market.  This kind of thinking is causing American Express to take the marketing lead in the financial services space.
Over the last 18 months Bihlmier has been responsible for developing Internet strategies for brand building and business initiatives on external web sites. His primary focus continues to be driving innovative internet media plans, partnerships and web development, while he manages the relationships with AmEx’s interactive agencies around the globe.
His role comes at an interesting time in the company’s evolution as newer campaigns are targeting audiences that are younger than those with which American Express is traditionally associated.  The marketing also underscores the varied role that American Express can play in a modern lifestyle — beyond being simply a payment card.
The third quarter of 2009 also demonstrated that American Express was willing to invest in its brand in key markets to communicate a fresh expression of its products. “Realize the Potential” was introduced in Canada, Mexico, the UK and Australia with a 360-degree marketing effort.  The tagline refers to both the potential to enjoy rewarding lives and the potential of the American Express card in providing services than can enhance that lifestyle.
“Realize the Potential” also takes a risk.  The campaign invites consumers to re-evaluate their perspective of American Express, particularly the position it plays in supporting and augmenting their lives. (The card offers exclusive member services ranging from travel advantages to purchase insurance to advanced ticket access to concerts, shows, film festivals and certain sporting events, as well as worldwide customer service.) As a result, a large portion of the media budget was dedicated to creating a digital brand presence across entertainment, travel and lifestyle sites.

Interestingly, Joe Bihlmier started his educational beginnings in Rome, Georgia at Berry College.  Now his role with one of the world’s most valuable brands and most admired companies that operates in over 130 countries certainly insures that Rome, Italy is also on his map.  (No doubt, the irony isn’t lost at alumni functions!)


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