American Express shows it can get down with Texas with brand-new activation in Austin

American Express has had a longstanding reputation when it comes to engraining itself in cultural happenings and conversation.

In the past decade alone, the company has found a way to make its presence known in events across all areas and spectrums, from major sporting events to music festivals and expos -- at the end of the day, it would be hard to find someone who doesn't have a story or memory associated with an Amex-partnered event, occasion or activation.

But what sets Amex apart from other credit card companies and other corporate sponsors is the company's ability to truly personalize and absorb the culture from each city and event that it participates in.

Because whether it's creating a space modeled after Manhattan's different (and very lively) neighborhoods at the New York's own U.S. Open or finding the perfect balance between opulence and desert chic at Coachella, Amex manages to create experiences time and time again that pick up on the crowd, vibe and culture unique to each location.

The brand's latest stop was at Austin City Limits Music Festival, where card member lounges and activations were set up meant to showcase small, local businesses in Austin while keeping the focus on the music -- after all, it is the live music capital of the world.

At ACL, card members were treated to an oasis within the festival itself, with decor and activities that felt truly Southern yet modern with a bit hipster, something that's become characteristically Austin in recent years.

Benefits ranged from standard VIP-like features (air conditioning, bars without lines, lush seating and views) to interactive photo opps on a mock stage with customized marquee lettering (hello, Instagram!) and airbrush tattooing designed by local tattoo artists.

What might not have ft in London for Wimbledon was a perfect fit for Austin and Austin City Limits, and the opposite holds true as well -- each experience has to be designed, curated and executed to truly embody exactly what card members at that specific event want and represent. 

Brandy Sanders, Vice President, Global Entertainment Partnerships & Experiences at American Express shared details on this year's unique popup:

“We always love to dream up unique experiences for our card members … it’s always really important that whatever those might be that they’re authentic to the city and to whatever it may be as well as that they’re just additive for card members — whether that is at Coachella in the desert or the U.S. Open in New York City, even Wimbledon in London. But this year, at Austin City Limits, we’re really excited about being able to highlight some shop small businesses in the local area which is really special. 

We wanted to ensure that those small businesses one, felt really right and authentic for who Austin is as a city but also that they’re really relevant and resonate with festival-goers.

We have on the first level the Waterloo Records pop-up shop which is an Austin staple — everyone can listen, browse and shop a curated selection of vinyl records. we also have an airbrush tattoo station from a local tattoo shop, Resurrection Tattoo. And we have complimentary juice from the beloved JuiceLand here in Austin."

Sanders also spoke to the importance of music to Amex card members and why the brand's presence at ACL is more than just a partnership:

"At the end of the day, it's always about our card members, it begins and ends with them. We go where they go, we’re passionate about what they’re passionate about and we know that they’re passionate about music. When you’re in the live music capital of the world — Austin! — where better to go than Austin City Limits to bring our card members closer to the artists and the music that they love. Being from Austin, I grew up going to live music shows and festivals all of the time. Music is literally in my DNA and it’s so exciting to be home and to see what Austin City Limits has evolved and changed into."

Sanders also gave a nod as to what's next for Amex as the company continues to grow and expand in to the music and festival space:

"All festivals have really grown and changed and moved beyond this idea of being just about music and they’ve become cultural hubs and entertainment destinations. As we think about that trend and look where else to expand, we’re excited to expand to seven other festivals around the world." 

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