American Express Recruits Big Companies to Help Small Businesses Recover

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What’s bad for small businesses is bad for the nation. Collectively, these companies employ 47.5% of the private workforce and generate 44% of the country’s economic output, making their contributions anything but minuscule.

To help alleviate some of the damage done by the Covid-19 crisis, American Express has established a coalition of more than 60 companies across multiple industries called Stand for Small. The coalition offers business support ranging from expense management to digital strategy and logistical advice. Members include Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, PayPal, Staples, UPS and Verizon.

Today, the Stand for Small coalition debuted a spot to bring attention the cause. The rather straightforward clip, which starts with scenes of empty streets and ends with small businesses back at work, encourages viewers to visit the coalition’s website, a “one-stop shop with resources, offers and tools.” The ad, created by R/GA, is a shift away from some of the emotion-driven creative produced in recent months toward a more pragmatic attitude, as states begin to reopen.

“This crisis has forced all of us to change our daily habits, and these changes have significantly impacted the livelihood of small businesses everywhere,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, CMO at American Express. “By launching a national campaign behind Stand for Small, we hope to quickly reach small businesses that are seeking resources as they weather this crisis and prepare to rebuild for the future.”

The 30-second ad, which doesn’t mention American Express or any coalition members, will appear on digital channels such as search and social, along with podcasts and streaming platform Roku. In the coming weeks, American Express plans to release its own branded Stand for Small campaign created in partnership with mcgarrybowen.

Like many projects created in response to the pandemic, Stand for Small came together quite quickly. The coalition’s website, also created by R/GA, was designed in a matter of days. The new spot was completed in about a week.

While the government’s $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program has bolstered many small businesses hurt by Covid-19, it’s also come with problems and complications. Some of the funds, for example, ended up in the hands of large, publicly traded companies, such as Shake Shack. (The New York-based burger chain returned its $10 million loan.) In addition, 75% of the stimulus aid must go toward employee salaries, leaving some business owners struggling to pay rent and other bills.

American Express is no stranger to promoting small businesses. In 2010, during the wave of economic uncertainty that followed the financial crash, American Express started Small Business Saturday. Occurring on the Saturday after Thanksgiving—between Black Friday and Cyber Monday—the movement encourages people to buy from local businesses as the holiday shopping season ramps up. On last year’s Small Business Saturday, the financial services company reported that consumers spent a record high $19.6 billion at independent retailers and restaurants.

Last March, in conjunction with National Employee Appreciation Day, American Express debuted a new campaign titled #ExpressThanks, which featured a push on social media and pop-ups in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston.

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