American Express Pop-Up ‘Experience’ Expands NBA All-Star Weekend

As part of its sponsorship of this past weekend's NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, American Express looked outside of the Staples Center.

While being a sponsor of a high-profile TV showcase like the NBA All-Star game would seem to be enough for most advertisers, American Express sought to get a bit more mileage from its promotional connection by hosting a weekend long pop-up “Experience” in Los Angeles.

Given that that many viewers might have been tuned in to the Winter Olympics broadcast, the idea of a pop-up not near the downtown LA location of the NBA All-Star game’s venue, The Staples Center, was an additional way of capturing the attention of locals and tourists.

While the event is significantly smaller than the Super Bowl, these kinds of marketing programs can impact local businesses, something that’s reflective of Amex’s long-running Shop Small campaign.

The American Express Experience delivers a multi-sensory journey of basketball, bringing fans through different interactive rooms and instillations, including the Lakers Vault, a room of 18 handmade Chandelier Hoops, LED-lighted Neon Backboards and a walkway of Exploded Floorboards.

During the Friday kickoff of the American Express Experience, “VIP guests, celebrities and influencers” stopped by to check out the space, including Amex ambassador Shaquille O’Neal, actors Anthony Anderson, Jerry Ferrara and Jesse Williams and TV personality Maria Menounos.

To ensure discovery of the pop-up, Amex set up search copy and keywords to promote the space in Google Maps.

“Our goal through our partnerships and activations is to enable customers to discover and deepen their passions by providing unforgettable, innovative experiences and exceptional customer service – and we felt that NBA All-Star 2018 was a perfect platform to showcase our access platform across sports, music and entertainment,” an Amex rep told GeoMarketing.

Among the specific goals satisfied by the American Express Experience pop-up, the rep noted:

  • As basketball fans, we know that NBA All-Star Week is one of the biggest heat moments of the season and a terrific way to engage with fans both on site and at home, which we successfully did through the unforgettable American Express Experience.
  • Our tentpole activation this year, the American Express Experience, was an intimate pop-up located two blocks from L.A. LIVE (1147 S. Hope Street) that delivered a multi-sensory journey of basketball, with interactive rooms and instillations. Guests were transported into a basketball-centric world that provided a new, unique perspective of the game.
  • With the desire of many people in and around All-Star Week to see and be seen, this activation welcomed a wide range of groups ranging from die-hards to casual fans. As part of our promise to back our Card Members and all NBA fans, the American Express Experience provided unique opportunities for attendees to document and share their All-Star Week.

As the concept of plastic cards is expected to diminish, Amex has been looking to the idea of using physical spaces to promote its brand more fully. And pop-ups are an increasingly easy way to suggest something “special” to consumers.

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 15: View of atmosphere at the American Express Fan Experience at NBA All-Star Weekend 2018 on February 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for American Express)

For example, last summer Amex partnered with Domino, the content and commerce company focused on home décor, at the Topping Rose House, a tony hotel and restaurant in Bridgehampton to highlight its appeal to upscale audiences looking for inspiration on weekend getaways.

The “Platinum Summer” event at the Topping Rose House was also meant to promote the hotel’s status as an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property.

Ultimately, Amex’s All-Star Experience is also about showcasing the charge card’s loyalty and rewards programs, as well its ability to get people to “show up” to a place and be engaged. As Amex faces increasing competition from other payment platforms and more demand from local businesses to assist them, the All-Star Experience is more than just being part of another televised game.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.