Most celebrity ads are just awkward exercises in idol worship. (Think Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation.”)
The smart new John McEnroe “Art of the Dispute” campaign for American Express is an exception.
A current ad (watch it here) shows the former “bad boy” tennis star apologizing to a 1985 U.S. Open umpire, after being inspired by AmEx’s “dispute resolution” service.
The commercial is fast-paced and fun. But, more importantly, it leverages McEnroe’s infamous ill-tempered demeanor to differentiate the brand from other card companies who are competing aggressively for AmEx’s more affluent and upwardly mobile members.
Game, set and match to American Express. Quite a turnaround from its disastrous “Have You Seen Andy’s Mojo?” ads of two years ago.
If the campaign is successful, perhaps other dispute-ridden celebs will follow suit. But, then again, I suppose no one wants to see a heavy rotation of K-Fed and Britney ads.