AmEx Tells Quirky Small-Business Stories in Charming New Ads

Judah Friedlander spins tales of donuts and tiny houses

Running short of funds for expansion can leave your donut business full of holes. Luckily, the entrepreneurs in a new film from dentsuMB can count on American Express business cards for dough—and other forms of support—to ensure their fortunes continue to rise.

The Dough | American Express

In a second ad, tiny-house architectural entrepreneurs seek to build on their success, with AmEx providing a firm foundation:

The Model | American Express

"We had to hack the 'how-to video,' making it equally entertaining and informative and relatable for owners," agency global creative lead Julie Scelzo tells Muse. "Many small businesses have such interesting origin stories—and sometimes the challenges and hurdles they face are equally unique. The 'Business Card Chronicles' series embraces that insight."

Amid the pandemic, SMB-focused campaigns abound, with notable efforts from AT&T, Square, Facebook, MassMutual/New York Times, Vimeo/Mailchimp and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, among others.

Such ads typically spin intense scenarios about real folks struggling to keep their dreams alive amid adversity. AmEx, however, employs a lighter touch. Its startups are composites, not actual SMBs, giving the series a wider canvas for humor. Smuggler director Brian Beletic paints in suitably broad strokes, blending silly wordplay with witty visuals—such as grainy "VHS footage" of the architects' old-school office party that refuses to slam.

Punchy patter from 30 Rock's Judah Friedlander sets the mood. His upbeat, slightly sardonic voiceover reassures viewers that AmEx has their back, even when sourdough starter bursts through the fridge and halts production.

"His pacing is unique and quite unexpected, which was essential for us," Scelzo says. "We wanted someone to narrate who could bring light and laughter to the copy. He did that in spades."

The spots draw inspiration from recent trends—specifically, the sourdough craze and urban dwellers' desire to flee cities in search of a safer, simpler life. They also feel timely given the persistent pressure on supply chains, with more than 80 percent of SMBs reporting a loss in revenue.

Two previous "Chronicles" spots similarly channeled current events. They present a veterinarian herding new patients (many households, of course, added pets during lockdown), and food-delivery pros with too much on their plate.

CREDITS

CLIENT: AMERICAN EXPRESS
SVP, Global Brand Planning and Content - Andy Goldberg
VP, Global Brand Content - Allison Silver
Senior Manager, Global Brand Content - Casey Ciminera
EVP, Global B2B Marketing - Clayton Ruebensaal
SVP, Global B2B Marketing – Jessica Ling
VP, B2B Marketing Strategy - Eva Fishner
Director, Global Brand Strategy – Felicia Principe
Director, Brand Strategy – Michael Smith

AGENCY: dentsuMB
Global President – Jon Dupuis
Chief Creative Officer - Menno Kluin
Global ECD - Julie Scelzo 
Creative Director - Christina Pitsinos
Sr. AD - Gavi Zarin
Copywriter - Aaron Sheinberg
EVP Integrated Production - Ed Zazzera
Sr. Producer Integrated Production - Katie West 
Managing Director - Luke Kenny
Group Account Director - Chad Whatcott
Account Supervisor - Haley Aldoroty
Sr. Business Manager - Marie Sawicki
SVP, Music Production - Jerry Krenach 

PARTNERS:
PRODUCTION// Smuggler 
Director - Brian Beletic 
EP- Sue Yeon Ahn  
POST PRODUCTION // P.S.260
Editor – Maury Loeb
Assistant Editor – Ashley Ingbretson
Sr Producer – Evann Payne  
Managing Partner – Zarina Mak  

FINISHING // P.S.260 Finishing
Lead Flame Artist – Margaret Yang
Flame Artist – Carlos Morales
Flame Artist – Jon Jovich
Flame Assistant – Anthony Augusta 
Finishing Producer – Natalie Raffaele 
GFX Director – Patrick Lavin 
GFX – Golpar Jalali 

VFX // Parliament 

MUSIC // Consortium
Composer – Seth Olinsky 

MIX // Sonic Union @sonicunionnyc 
Engineer – Michael Marinelli @sonicmic  

VO // Judah Friedlander @judahworldchamp  

COLOR // Company 3 @comanpy_3
Colorist – Tim Masick @timmasick

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