When astrophysicists describe the birth of the universe, they talk about a Big Bang. When cause marketers talk about the origins of this field, they inevitably refer to American Express and its 1983 campaign supporting the renovation of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Companies and causes had worked together before, but American Express invented the term cause marketing to describe this program which raised $1.7 million and did great things for card usage and activation. Fittingly, 21 years later, American Express is once again running a Statue of Liberty campaign.
In the intervening years, AMEX has developed a number of substantial programs to do well by doing good. It has fought hunger with Share Our Strength through the Charge Against Hunger and Taste of the Nation campaigns – and concurrently strengthened its ties with restauranteurs and restaurant goers. It raised millions to fight breast cancer with Charge for the Cure. Its innovative AMEX Blue card teamed up with VH1’s Save The Music foundation to support school music programs and connect with younger consumers.
In the spring of 2004, the company announced Make Room to Heal, a transactional program supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities, the corporate cause of the fast food giant – a key AMEX client.