With a portfolio that spans high-profile sports events and music festivals, American Express Co. has longed use sponsorship as a platform to engage card holders with unique, one-of-a-kind experiences.

Below, Deb Curtis, Amex vice president of global experiential marketing, discusses the credit card company’s sponsorship strategy, new activation programs at this week’s Coachella music festival, and other topics.

American Express has long used sponsorship to offer member experiences. How has the company’s approach evolved over the years?
American Express has always used sponsorships and experiences to bring to life our brand’s long standing service proposition in a 3D way. 

As technology and new forms of engagement emerge, we are able to continually bring a fresh perspective to how we bring service to life in new and meaningful ways. Whether it be digital (360 app with Taylor Swift, in-app experience like Coachella) to analog (radios, creating a tailgate on a barge for a Seattle Seahawks game), our maniacal focus is on immersing the fan and our card members in moments and experiences that matter, in ways that showcase the value of membership and the service innovation of our brand.

Additionally, we have transformed the way we bring partnerships to life by not only immersing card members and fans in unique ways, but also partnering with and activating merchants, to extend what it means to experience their team, their favorite artist, or a premiere event. 

How is American Express activating Coachella in 2016?
American Express is the official payment partner of Coachella for the second year and this year have first-of-its-kind tech integration with Coachella’s app that enables American Express card members to quickly and seamlessly get special Amex access all weekend long at the festival.

Card members just use their Amex.com user ID and password to get access to a series of VIP offers, rewards and surprise and delight experiences – all available and redeemable via the app – to make their Coachella experience more exciting and rewarding. This is a truly first of its kind digital experience that showcases the power of your Amex login, which our card members already know and use when they pay their bills online.  We’re testing the opportunities of what your Amex login can get you as a card member – and at Coachella, that means fun, exciting experiences, instant savings and special access only for Amex card members.

Content marketing is all the rage. What is your take on the topic?
Our approach to content is the same as experiences…its service

It should provide added value, and it should showcase the added value of membership. It should also say something about us as a brand. Not only are we collaborating with some of the most incredible athletes and artists in the world on content, but we use content as a way to showcase the idea of creative collaborators and teammates along the way, similar to how American Express is a teammate and supporter of our card members every day to add value to their life experiences.

Technology is dramatically changing the music marketing landscape. What is your take on technology?
I like to say that we don’t use technology for technology sake. It’s not about the bright shiny object. Technology, if done right, is a great tool to immerse and engage the fan more, and deliver a service. We see radios at the US Open as technology as forward because it serves a purpose. It doesn’t matter if it is thought of as “analog” – if it’s the best delivery mechanism to deliver the service, that’s the technology of choice. 

We do consider ourselves on the bleeding edge however, of using technology in experiences, because we want to be first, but first in a meaningful way that moves fans, not to make headlines.