American Express OPEN launched its new Plum Card yesterday at the Inc 500 event, with "ooh and ah" elements of suspense and drama. DAY 1 The suspense began on the first day when you entered the sponsor hall at the Inc 500 event. You saw a booth space completely enclosed by tall solid plum-colored walls. A digital clock, counting down by seconds, was projected against the blank wall. Just that countdown clock -- nothing else. You couldn't help but be curious. DAY 2 Then, on the second morning, while the attendees were in the main ballroom hearing the program of speakers, a crew of workers assembled the Plum Card booth. I happened to be conducting an interview in the lobby while this was taking place, and snapped this shot of the booth assembly as I came in: It might be hard to see, but the countdown clock on the laptop shows 1 hour, 15 minutes left before the announcement. Meanwhile, back in the ballroom, Susan Sobbott, the President of American Express OPEN, announced the card simply by saying, "Introducing ... the Plum Card." It was all understated but dramatic -- just her appearing on stage against a backdrop of plum-colored lights and a few images projected on a giant screen. All Inc 5000 attendees are among the first group eligible to receive the card. Along with the card, they received leather cases attached underneath their chairs. The leather case was to hold the complimentary iPhone that each Inc 5000 honoree could later claim and receive. Nice swag, huh? At the next break in the program, the attendees emerged to see the Plum Card booth open, and looking something like this: - The Plum Card website says the card is limited to 10,000 recipients right now. Even the website is dramatic and has an element of suspense.