Discover Splits Up Its 30-Second Super Bowl Buy Into 2 Spots

The 15-second ads highlight the credit card's product benefits

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An unsure Cady Heron is one of the many yeasayers in Discover's more positive Super Bowl ad. Paramount Pictures
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For its third Super Bowl appearance, Discover is shaking things up: It’s splitting its $5.6 million ad buy into two separate 15-second spots that highlight its two most attractive traits.

Both ads feature mashups of several popular TV shows and movies of people reacting either affirmatively or negatively. Halfway through the yeses by characters from Old School, Mean Girls, Ted and 30 Rock, large orange text flashes across the screen asking the question: “Do you take Discover?” To which more popular characters respond in a string of affirmatives.

The “no” spot is set up exactly the same—15 seconds of recognizable characters like Chandler Bing, Dr. Evil, Cher from Clueless, School of Rock’s Jack Black and John Candy in Uncle Buck saying “no,” “no way” or something else negative. Halfway through, the screen flashes another big orange question: “Does Discover charge annual fees?” The chorus of popular characters gives the answer.

The credit card brand chose the yes/no messaging for its simplicity, said Discover’s svp of brand, media and consumer insights Ryan Scully in a statement. And splitting the ad into two is “a fun way to get consumers’ attention,” he added. “Having an ad run in between them allows for both ads to have their own moment, while working together to tell our story.”

The last time Discover was in the Big Game, it took a slightly more unorthodox route to remind football fans that it doesn’t charge surprise late fees: a surprise goat. And in 1986, when the company used the Super Bowl stage to launch the card, it ran a very 1980s ad featuring a shiny pole vaulter.

Discover worked with The Martin Agency on this year’s spots, which will run during the same commercial break but not back-to-back.

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl 2020 Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 2 for the best in-game coverage of the commercials anywhere.

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@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.