Martin Bows Discover Campaign

LOS ANGELES The Martin Agency breaks its first work for Discover Financial Services during Sunday’s Emmy Awards telecast, introducing the theme “What if?” in ads portraying the company’s credit cards as less confusing and more user-friendly than those offered by competitors.

The spots show animated orange-handle scissors, hungry to cut up over-hyped cards, flocking like birds and crossing city streets as Gershwin-esque music plays in the background.

One 60-second spot closes with the questions, “What if you could get rid of the things you don’t like about credit cards, the hype, the confusion? What if you could start over and, this time, do it right?”

“What we’re trying to do is rediscover people’s relationship with their credit card company,” said Mark Hosbein, senior vice president of brand management and advertising at San Francisco-based Discover. “They want a relationship that gives them a variety of things—an overall company—not just on a product basis.”

An effort was made to transform cutting up credit cards from an act of frustration into “an act of empowerment,” he said. “It feels good. It’s an emotional message.”

Discover chose the Emmys as a launch platform because “it’s a celebration of excellence. Plus you want to be in a big venue,” Hosbein said.

Print and online elements are also part of the campaign. The interactive ads include live-action video of bistro diners and a weatherman at work who feed their cards to the animated scissors. Those iterations feature an intriguing visual effect, with the scenarios taking place both inside and “outside” the space allotted for the ads.

Recent Discover ads had featured consumer testimonials.

Interpublic Group’s Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., added the estimated $80 million business in the spring following a review [Adweek Online, April 19]. Discover, which is owned by Morgan Stanley, split with Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco last November.

Publicis Groupe’s Starcom USA handles media placement.