Discover ads 'slightly' shift to brand

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Discover Financial Services this week uncovers a new campaign and tagline, with fresh ads from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

The new tagline, "For the slightly smarter consumer," replaces "There's always more to Discover," which supported a positioning that focused on such features as cash-back bonuses and e-mail alerts when accounts were nearing credit limits. The new effort also highlights product benefits but features more of a branding message.

"We're trying to build on last year's ads," said Cathy Davis, VP-advertising and brand management. "We've always been perceived as a smarter card."

One new commercial, shot in the style of a "Where are they now?" documentary, features a has-been rock band that squandered its money. The voice-over warns, "Some people just can't live within their means." In another spot, a father tries to steer his daughter away from a $600 beagle at a pet store until his $25 choice turns out to be a hyena that attacks a salesclerk. "Some people know when to spend a little more," the voice-over intones.

Ms. Davis wouldn't reveal how much the company will spend on the campaign but said Discover will continue actively supporting its brand. The company spent $55.4 million on media advertising in the first half of this year according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Discover carried out extensive market research to focus its ad message. Ms. Davis said the company found consumers are more conservative in this cooling economic climate and want to spend within their means.


The campaign will run alongside a print effort launched July 24 to promote Discover's merchant acceptance. That campaign, also from Goodby, touts such retailers as Crate & Barrel and Office Depot.

The new campaign also includes print, online and direct marketing elements. A print campaign will break later in the month to promote a new Discover product believed to be a "smart card" for Internet shopping.

Discover ranks a distant fourth after Visa International, MasterCard International and American Express Co. in the $1.4 trillion U.S. credit and charge card market, according to figures from industry newsletter The Nilson Report. While Visa holds 53.75% of U.S. card volume, MasterCard accounts for 26.24% and AmEx is 13.89% of the market, Discover sales make up only 5.29% of credit and debit purchases.

Strong consumer spending has pushed credit card companies' volume up year after year during this economic boom cycle. Total U.S. credit card volume for just the top five cards-Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover and Diners Club-rose 15.9% in 1999 to $1.34 trillion. The number is on track to rise again this year, having hit $736 billion in the first half.

Contributing: Alice. Cuneo

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