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Americanexpress
Amex--henson
Handcard

"A grown-up friend's hand: don't cross the street without it!"

Weirdo Express00:28

Weirdo Express

American Express is a global finance company best known for their credit business.

In 1977,[1] Jim Henson appeared in a commercial for the company with the Green Frackle, Nigel, Floyd, Scooter and a Muppet pig. He speaks to the audience from a faux production set, and articulates that people know the Muppets, but not him. That's why he carries an American Express card with him when he travels -- it's backed by hundreds of offices around the world. The ad, playing on the card-holder's combination of celebrity and anonymity, was similar to a 1975 spot starring Mel Blanc.

The commercial features the familiar shot of the cardholder's name being typed out on the card, as seen in so many other advertisements for the company at the time. Likewise, the famous tagline "Don't leave home without it" closes the commercial. He signed an affidavit confirming his on-screen statements about his credit card use were true.[1]

It was filmed on February 11 of that year, at a East 95th Street studio, according to Jim Henson's Red Book; Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, John Lovelady and Frank Oz were the puppeteers. A pre-production meeting was held the day before.[1] Two more commericals with Jim Henson were filmed in 1979: a 10-second ad featuring Jim and a Muppet waiter (filmed on July 21) and a 30-second ad where Jim dines with the Muppets and is left with the check.[2]

On August 8, 2008, a new commercial began airing featuring footage from old American Express commercials, including Jim Henson, Robert De Niro, John Cleese and Ellen DeGeneres.[3]

The company sponsored the New York City tourism campaign "Just Ask the Locals".

References

  • Sesame Street parodied American Express' "Do you know me?/Don't leave home without it" ad campaign with a series of skits promoting the idea of children holding an adult's hand while crossing the street, with the Muppet characters holding a "grown-up friend's hand." Three skits were produced: Forgetful Jones with Olivia (as the grown-up friend); Bert and Ernie with Gordon; and Big Bird with Bob. Each skit ended with their names embossed at the bottom of a credit card resembling an American Express card, with a big human hand in the middle and the names of those involved in the skit typed at the bottom; a voiceover stated, "A Grown-Up Friend's Hand. Don't cross the street without it."(EKA: Episode 2291)
  • The song "Happiness Hotel" from The Great Muppet Caper features Joe Raposo's lyric, "...and the whole dang thing has been condemned by American Express," as sung by Dr. Teeth.
  • Kermit notes a variation of the company's tagline in The Muppets at Walt Disney World when he offers to pay for admission to the park with his credit card. "Unfortunately I left home without it." 
  • Baby Gonzo parodies this commercial campaign with the "Weirdo Express Card" with the tagline, "Don't leave your brains at home without it" at the end of the Muppet Babies episode "The Weirdo Zone".

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jim Henson's Red Book - 2/11/1977 – ‘Shoot American Express commercial – begin running next summer’
  2. Jim Henson's Red Book - 7/21/1979 – ‘Film another American Express commercial in London Restaurant.’
  3. Market Watch "American Express Showcases Iconic Personalities..." 8/11/08
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