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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Discover Card launches new customer service-focused campaign

| 11 Comments

Loyalty3.jpgThis will resonate. Of that we have no doubt. We're talking about a new ad campaign from the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., for Riverwoods, IL.-based Discover Card that breaks today. Three new TV spots all focus on customer service -- or, more specifically, the lack thereof -- at some financial institutions.

The new Discover spots make their point via a customer service agent called Peggy, who is actually a he. Peggy is seen in each spot attempting to deal with a customer who has called a financial institution named USA Prime Credit. In each instance, the interaction with Peggy leads to a situation that is both funny and familiar -- at least to anyone who has struggled to get through to -- and then deal with -- a banking representative.

It's a tribute to Martin's skills that the shop has managed to make us laugh at what is, in fact, a hugely frustrating experience for so many, namely the decline of customer service. Discover Card apparently promises a real person will answer customer calls within 60 seconds. That's a promise well worth promoting in Discover's marketing initiatives. We'll have more on the spots at a later date.

11 Comments

Nice, way to go Discover. Thanks for playing on people's fears about others. Unfortunatly, this ad will more than likely resonate, since the mood of the country is anti-foreigner. So I guess Discover decided to pick on Russians or eastern europeans (given peggy's accent and snow covered hut). But ask yourself, what if "Peggy", had an Hindi accent or if Peggy spoke in a stereotyped african american voice. This is no different than the Sambo's mascot from mid 20th century deep south. It wasn't right then and it isn't right now. Discover show some leadership.

I respectfully disagree with the comment made on August 17th (11:26am).
I feel this addresses a real frustration many customers have. I'm not concerned with what nationality the customer service rep is, I'm frustrated that the representative cannot speak/comprehend the language he/she is employed to assist. If I'm talking to a Canadian that mumbles, a southerner with a thick drawl, or someone from India that gets mad at me because *they* can't communicate with me (the customer).... it makes me wonder why I finance a company that makes such unintelligent employment decisions.
Kudos to Discover for recognizing this frustration and advertising it as politically correct as possible. It will never be P.C enough for everyone.... but ultimately it's the money that talks the loudest. I will be inclined to move to Discover because of this being addressed in their ads just like how I moved from a PC to an Apple for the superior customer support.

Allen, grow up. It's a commercial. You're the reason why this country has gone so damn politically correct. I'm bet you wouldn't let your kid watch reruns of Speedy Gonzalez because it's "degrades" Mexicans.

great job Tudor Petrut! the clip is hilarious !

Loved the ad!

Thanks for the write up, Lewis. Great job.

Oh shutup you whining babies, i'm sick and tired of talking to foreign people when I have a problem...you should be more upset with amercian companies paying these people and not giving jobs to americans. GO HUG A TREE!!!!

Sorry, but as someone who has lost jobs to outsourcing call centers, or who has had many loved ones lose jobs to outsourcing call centers outside America, I applaud Discover's loyalty to customer service.

There are many reasons to be worried about the decline of customer service in America - and our frustration as customers is just one of them.

First off: isn't it insulting - not only to consumers, but to the foreign workers as well - that they are forced to use a name recognized as "American"? Who is that fooling? It's insulting, and isn't fooling the customer into thinking they're talking to someone in America. If you want to be upset about racism, start with the companies that use an off-shore call center and then force cultural identities on the workers.

Second: again, if you want to be upset about the racist aspects of the message, how about being upset that American big businesses use these call centers for very cheap labor. If you look at some of the statistics for American businesses that have used foreign outsource companies. There has been a recent move by some of the companies that originally moved their business offshore in the late 90's, early 2000's to bring them back in the country because they are being slammed by consumers who want to be able to communicate clearly with their customer service rep. Many times the sudden move of a business from an area such as India or the Philippines means that the hundreds of foreign customer service workers suddenly are without work. Any politically correct thoughts on what that does to their economy? It creates an "Allentown"-like effect - suddenly there's no money going into the economy. The American business waltz in, promise great jobs to people who hadn't had that kind of economic stimulus before, and they suddenly leave without warning - no thought to the worker - and do what's best for them.

So, customer service quality aside, if you want to be upset about the fear that we'll all suddenly become xenophobes, you should probably do some more research on what American businesses are doing to the culture and economy of the foreign call center workers that they're abusing.

Once you're more educated on that, we can discuss why these commercials are funny, and yet too true to be funny.

why did Discover choose the name "Peggy" ? That is my name and every
time I see that commercial I feel as though I personally am being made fun of!How many other "Peggys" feel this way.. I don't like it!

I am so glad these commercials exist! At least I'm not the only one who suffers through those calls.

Here is a website with some good advice also!

Found it when browsing websites, I thought it might be useful to the viewer here.

Cheers!

I know I'm a little late in adding my comments but this particular blog post made me think. It was a fascinating piece. I have become a frequent visitor to your site since I found your site a while back. I can't say that I agree with everything you stated but it was definitely intriguing! I will be back again soon.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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