1975: American Express "Don't Leave Home Without It"
To celebrate the Ad Club of New York's 120th anniversary, The Drum is inviting readers to share their favorite marketing moments from the past 120 years.
Karl Malden - American Express
The famous 'Don't Leave Home Without Them' tagline became synonymous with American Express traveller's cheques from the mid seventies through to the late 90s - making it one of the most successful campaigns of all time.
Created by Ogilvy & Mather, the long-running campaign was initially fronted by Karl Malden who was in the Zeitgeist with hit cop show The Streets of San Francisco, co-starring a young Michael Douglas (watch Malden talk about them in the video below.)
Upon Malden's retirement from the ads, a number of famous faces such as The Who's Roger Daltrey, author Steven King or actor Peter Ustinov and began with them each asking the viewer "Do you know me?" before explaining that being famous doesn't get stars everything without having to pay. But by being a member of American Express it was like being the next best thing - the whole campaign was incredibly aspirational and well presented to the yuppy psyche.
As with all good slogans, it would be revived a few years later, this time to promote the American Express pre-paid card.