Sometimes insomnia is a good thing.  Last night I saw a commercial for the American Express Give Green gift card and knew that I wanted to blog about it today.  I do not typically purchase gift cards and receive them even less often so I honestly had not seen this card but the commercial did pique my interest.
The basic premise of the program is that for every Give Green card that a consumer purchases, $0.70 will be donated to American Forests.  Macerich, a retail property owner and developer, is collaborating with American Express on this product and is guaranteeing that American Forests will receive at least $100,000 in donations from the program.

I have to ask myself if this is an altruistic step taken by American Express to truly give back and take a stance on environmental issues.  On the other hand, it may be merely a marketing ploy to sell more gift cards.  American Express is facing financial woes due to the current state of the economy and would benefit if they were to garner a larger share of the billions of dollars spent on gift cards during the holiday season.

Although I was unable to find figures for 2007, one study published on the ICSC website showed that consumers spent $25 billion on gift cards during the holiday season in 2006.   That is a big chunk of change.  Perhaps the Give Green Program is a bit of both - an altruistic step and a marketing ploy. 

The beneficiary of the program is American Forests.  Founded in 1875, the organization "is a world leader in planting trees for environmental restoration, a pioneer in the science and practice of urban forestry, and a primary communicator of the benefits of trees and forests."  Source:  American Forests

To meet the minimum goal, American Express will need to sell just fewer than 143,000 gift cards.  Although that does not sound like a lot when looking at the sales volume of gift cards, American Express will need to continue its media marketing efforts to ensure that consumers purchase the Give Green gift card instead of one of the hundreds of other gift cards on the same display rack.

American Express Give Green program
Purchasing an AMEX gift card benefits American Forests.