American Express and Ellen DeGeneres Win with animals

Ellen DeGeneres stars alongside animals in television and cinema commercials made for American Express, released in October 2006. The star of the Ellen DeGeneres show appeared in an American Express campaign in 2005 but launched into a new level of engagement with television, cinema, print and interactive features including animals such as penguins, hyenas and ostriches. The two minute black and white cinema ad begins with Ellen walking through an exit door, passing a wall-size list of lines, “I will not eat in English Class” (from an episode of Ellen’s show). Pink flamingos (we assume they’re pink) poke their heads out from their office doors. She greets Craig (some kind of praire rodent) before sending Shelly the tortoise off to Starbucks for a coffee.

Ellen DeGeneres with two hyenas in American Express TV ad

In the board room it’s time to work on Ellen’s comedy material. She wants to talk about working in an office. What if you were a neat freak and you were forced to share an office with a pig. “You know what I mean Francis!”, she explains to a grubby pig. Harold the elephant, two hyenas, a dog and a bird, each with their own typewriter, all throw in ideas for Ellen’s routines. Roger the cricket throws in a sarcastic comment or two. At the elevator Ellen shares a knowing comment with Darryl the alpaca. At the food dispenser machine she shares her food with Frank the goat. In the studio Molly the giraffe replaces a high light bulb and checks a follow spot. In the changing room Rikki the raccoon provides advice on eye makeup.

Ellen DeGeneres with raccoon eyes in American Express TV ad

It’s show time. There’s an eagle on camera. Steve the seal warms up the crowd. On stage, just before the curtain rises, Ellen feels a desperate need for a mint. Andy the kangaroo comes to the rescue. And she hasn’t forgotten about the $12 the ostrich owes her. The phrase “My Life Goal: to work with animals”, is linked up with Ellen’s final voice over: “My life is far from ordinary. That’s why my card is American Express.”

Click on the image below to play the video.

See Ellen’s Animals online site,, complete with American Express profiles for eight of the animals, and an opportunity to interact with Ellen’s animals. The two minute cinema ad is available in quicktime at Ellen’s blog, with breast cancer pink ribbon included.


The Ellen De Generes spot was developed at Ogilvy & Mather, New York, by creative Directors Chris Mitton, Terry Finley, David Apicella, copywriter Jon Wagner, art director Dustin Duke and agency producer Alice Mintzer, Rachel Watson.

Director was Bryan Buckley via Hungry Man, with producers Kevin Byrne and Cindy Becker, director of photography Scott Henriksen.

Editor was Chris Franklin via Big Sky Editorial.

Music was mixed at Sound Lounge.

The spot won the Emmy award for the most outstanding commercial in 2007.