If you were one of the millions of people who watched the 84th annual Academy Awards this year, you may have caught the American Express commercial featuring Thomas Keller. Maybe you saw the ad but had no idea it was even for American Express. In fact, if not for the Amex logo at the end of the ad you would have likely not noticed a connection. Or would you have?
Who is Thomas Keller?
In order to understand the connection we may have to figure out who Thomas Keller is, and how the small town of Yountville is significant. Thomas Keller is most widely known as a multi-award winning chef. His restaurant, The French Laundry, in Yountville, California, has won numerous awards from the James Beard Foundation. After the success of The French Laundry, Thomas Keller and his brother Joseph Keller opened another wildly successful restaurant down the street from The French Laundry called Bouchon. Along with the award winning restaurants in the small town of Yountville and across the country, Thomas Keller has published cookbooks and assisted with his foodie knowledge in a number of movies including Ratatouille.
The Thomas Keller and the Amex Connection
Award winning dining usually means award winning waits to regular people like you and me. It is rumored that it can be quite difficult getting into any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants. The waiting list can extend for days, meaning you must call in advance. Dropping in for a bite just because you happen to be in town, is highly unlikely and it is recommended that you make your reservation 2 or 3 months in advance. Or, if you are an American Express cardholder, you are able to not only take part in special invitation only events that include restaurants such as The French Laundry, but you can also contact concierge services for assistance in getting into the restaurants easier.
However, the commercial appealed to everyone in some way. Why wouldn’t you want to visit a small cozy town like Yountville? The soothing music, the coziness of the town, the mention of farming and community and the fact that bay leaves for all of Thomas Keller’s restaurants are picked from one bay laurel tree that he planted himself are quite convincing. American Express is mentioned as a partner who shares in the same goals of community building that Thomas Keller shares. The significance of airing during the Academy Awards is still unclear to me. Are more likeminded people watching during the Oscars? Do more Academy Award watchers care about community building or are more viewers concerned with fine dining?
The connection then, is simple. As mentioned in the ad, American Express is a partner that has helped “branch out business” and is considered part of his support system. If you are familiar with fine dining, you are likely familiar with Thomas Keller’s restaurants in Yountville, The French Laundry and Bouchon. You may also be familiar with American Express and if you are not, the assistance in getting into exclusive events and restaurants such as these, along with the partnership, may be reason enough to familiarize yourself with the charge card. If you are not familiar with any of these things it’s possible this just came across as a nice, feel-good commercial.
What do you think? Were you interested in Thomas Keller or American Express after the commercial?