Meet "Peggy," a bearded, clueless and very male credit-card customer-service representative.
Thickly-accented Peggy works for "USA Prime Credit" in a snowbound shack in the middle of nowhere. His inability to answer simple consumer questions -- beyond giving his phone-bank name and responding to most other queries with a less-than-convincing "yes" -- is the primary shtick in Discover Financial's latest ads from IPG's The Martin Agency.
The goal, according to the shop and Discover, is reaching consumers who have endured such service trials and, naturally, portray Discover's offering as superior.
Julie Loeger, svp, brand and product management at Discover, said, "We believe that by featuring our promise to answer calls in 60 seconds or less by real people who are trained to solve problems on the first call, we will continue to differentiate ourselves."
The work breaks today with a spot called "Loyalty" on prime-time shows such as America's Got Talent, The Office, Parenthood and the Emmy Awards. Two additional commercials are set to follow. "Hold" shows the fury and frustration that can result when consumers are left hanging on the line for long periods. "Transfer" deals with getting bounced around -- but no answers, as callers eventually wind up back with "Peggy."
"Peggy" constitutes a strategic change for Discover and its agency, explained Martin's Kevin Ragland. Instead of the recent past focus on Discover's Cashback Bonus rewards program, the new work makes "a broader use of humor than we've done for them in the past. Tapping into the frustrations that exist with other card's customer service in a funny way allows us to emphasize the difference getting good service can make," he said.
Discover's ad spending is way up this year at $67 million through the first half of 2010, per Nielsen. The brand spent slightly less than $80 million in measured media during all of last year.