In order to announce an expanded relationship with American Express, entertainment company Universal Studios let the Minions characters from its 2010 and 2013 Despicable Me films take over American Express’ Instagram account for a day.
The Minions posted six images that touted the benefits of the relationship and, according to American Express, the effort resulted in 1,883 likes, 98 comments, and “close to” 180 new followers on Instagram.
Even though Despicable Me 2 came out on DVD/Blu-Ray in November and Despicable Me 3 won’t be released until 2017, American Express opted to use the Minions because it wanted to “break the news [of the expanded partnership] in more of a unique fashion” and because “everyone loves [the mischievous characters]” and “we felt they were the right fit to take over the corporate handle,” says Mona Hamouly, vice president of social media communications at American Express.
The payment services brand chose to focus the effort on Instagram – where it has 36,000 followers – as opposed to Facebook – where it has 5.2 million – because it “gives us a unique way of telling the brand story in visual way that we haven’t done before,” Hamouly says. “This is the first time we’ve handed over the handle to anyone outside American Express and it felt like the right opportunity for the Minions to do this and Instagram works so well.”
Universal and American Express announced the expanded multi-year agreement to create what they call “exclusive consumer benefits and experiences.”
That includes “new and innovative marketing opportunities” for both companies, such as giving American Express first dibs among payment services providers for product placement and co-promotion in Universal films, along with the ability for American Express to offer holiday and seasonal theme park events, film premieres, and VIP screenings to eligible card members and prospects, as well as discounts at theme parks and “special once-in-a-lifetime entertainment experiences.”
The agreement also enables American Express to acquire new card members through Universal theme parks and websites.
In addition to Instagram, there was also some cross-promotion on Facebook and Twitter.
According to Hamouly, cross-promotion with Universal resulted in more than 9 million impressions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and 17,000 likes on Instagram.
@AmericanExpress has 704,000 Twitter followers.
American Express and Universal have worked together since 2008.
Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios, which is part of Comcast Corporation’s NBCUniversal.
NBCUniversal wholly owns Universal Studios Hollywood. It also owns Universal Orlando Resort and has licensing agreements with Universal Studios Japan, Barcelona’s Port Aventura, and Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa. Universal Parks and Resorts has also announced a prospective Universal Studios theme park resort near Seoul.
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