The line came from focus group research, in which customers repeatedly used the word 'potential' to describe the card's elaborate benefits, which include priority concert tickets, a 24-hour international helpline, and reward points. So the phrase 'Realise the potential' primarily means 'Realise the potential (of the card)'. But 'the potential' could also imply 'your potential', something else AmEx explored in research, discovering that its customers are increasingly interested in personal fulfilment and self-improvement. The campaign that launched the slogan addressed both aspects. TV ads highlighted AmEx's lesser-known services (rescuing lost teddy bears, finding doctors who speak your language), while print ads exhorted likely customers to 'be a traveller, not a tourist'. To 'realise' potential is to be aware of it, but also to bring it to fruition. The faint ambiguity gives the slogan a bit of life, but it remains stubbornly prosaic.
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