Takashi Murakami Swarovski-studded hoodies

American Express is legendary for slathering cardholders with perks. The latest effort popped up on Sunday at ComplexCon in Long Beach, Calif., with a surprise members-only e-commerce shopping event featuring some of the festival’s hottest merchandise drops.

The event is basically an e-commerce pop-up, one that will probably have a very short shelf life. With an extremely limited selection of just 200 products from high-profile collabs at the festival, Amex figures the digital store will probably sell out in minutes.

According to the company, the timing is key.

“We know ComplexCon fans are all about getting their hands on the one-of-a-kind pieces from their favorite designers and collaborations,” Lindsay Ulrey, vice president, global sports experiences and partnerships at American Express, told WWD. “But these items sell out fast, and with the 60,000 people expected to show up, the lines are definitely a pain point when trying to snag these hot items.”

By scheduling the shopping opportunity on the second day, Amex basically wants to give its members a second chance at those products. The merchandise includes Atmos x Nike, Emotionally Unavailable Bearbrick, Crocs x Takashi Murakami x ComplexCon Croc, Study 001 and more.

The temporary e-commerce store works via geo-targeting, so only people at the Long Beach Convention area will see it. There’s a bit of an envy factor as well: All of the festival attendees get tipped off, thanks to a notification in the ComplexCon app. But only American Express cards actually work for the transactions. Sorry, Visa and MasterCard holders.


Push notification goes out to alert festival attendees of the American Express shopping opportunity.  Courtesy image

The geo-targeted online store works like an e-commerce pop-up, giving cardholders another crack at buying likely sold-out merchandise. 

This is the credit and financial services company’s first year as the event’s official payments partner, and it also lined up other perks. Festival-goers with ComplexCon American Express wristbands get first access to VIP and general attendance tickets, expedited American Express entrance lanes, reserved or early access seating for events like “Pigeons & Planes” Arena concerts and ComplexCon(versations).

Ulrey said the company always has “card members’ backs in ways big and small.” But apart from just pleasing existing customers, the perks can also help boost brand awareness among the festival’s fashion-forward Millennial crowd. That has its own benefits.

“We’ve seen new ‘culture’ moments continue to emerge, with the growth of sneaker culture and streetwear, and become a major area of interest for our cardmembers,” Ulrey added. “This sparked us to explore how American Express could play within the space in an authentic way and reach a younger, Millennial demographic.”

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