Brand: Discover Card (Morgan Stanley)
Link: Click Here
Target: Debt Conscious Consumers
The spot starts in the middle of a city street where a host of orange scissors standing upright prance forward to orchestral music, much like they are taking part in a ballet. They move in and among the commuters and into an office building. Soon we see the commuters tentatively feeding their credit cards to the scissors, who neatly snip them in two. Soon it becomes a sport and people are tossing their credit cards to scissors who jump for them as if they’re black labradors catching frisbees. Even a grandfather sitting on a bench tries it. The city dissolves into a giant parade where people line the streets tossing their credit cards in, even from upper stories as they float downwards like confetti or ticker tape. A voiceover says, “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?” The spot concludes with a Discover Card logo and a link to the Discover Card what if site.
This spot certainly attracts attention and has the, “how did they do that,” appeal. The effect of sentient scissors is brought to life convincingly. Curiousity keeps the viewer watching for the eventual payoff and branding.
Destined to become a milestone in the ‘What Were They Thinking?’ hall of fame, this spot confuses more than it illuminates. While this advertising blog supports inventive executions, they must support the brand positioning – or at least build the brand. This execution does neither. For a full three-quarters of the spot we are left wondering what the point is and which brand is being promoted. The payoff (that Discover doesn’t have the hassles of ordinary cards) is a letdown and leaves us wondering who could have possibly created such a colossal trainwreck. Here are the issues by the numbers:
- Weak Branding – The Discover logo is shown a single time at the end of the spot.
- High Concept = No Concept – The concept must have been compelling in the storyboard presentation, but it ends up overwhelming the spot.
- Brand Positioning – Discover is given a weakly stated position which puts it at parity with American Express and Capital One No Hassles cards.
- Ownability – Surely nobody else will copy this spot, but it could have been created by any brand.
- Tonality - The scissors actually portray a negative message about the category which may not serve Discover well.
This spot gives us some genuine angst for Discover, which seems to work better as the ‘little card that could.’ In trying to copy the visual splendor of the Sonia Bravia spot (where balls cascade down San Francisco streets – see our commentary here), Discover has created a version without the artistry which feels pedestrian and unconvincing.
Branding Bottom Line:
A brand disaster for Discover. And we thought running with scissors was dangerous!