By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
January 4, 2011: Phil Pritchard, vice-president and official curator at the Hockey Hall of Fame and a man who personally escorts the Stanley Cup on its global travels, will face perhaps his biggest challenge when he calls "Peggy," the fictitious and frustrating customer service representative in the national campaign from Discover Financial Services.
The title character, Peggy, played by a bearded man with a European accent who works for the fictional U.S.A. Prime Credit company, has recently received calls from former head college football coaches Lou Holtz and Bobby Bowden. Lead agency is The Martin Agency, Richmond, VA.
The Pritchard spot is scheduled to launch in late January to coincide with Discover's activation as the presenting sponsor of the NHL All-Star Game and NHL All-Star Weekend. Discover is in its first season as the the official card of the NHL in the U.S., which also includes the recent NHL Winter Classic, the NHL Awards and the NHL Draft.
Discover has been named one of just ten Sports Marketers of the Year by NYSportsJournalism.com and is in the running for Top Dog Sports Marketer of the Year in a vote being conducted among visitors to the Web site.
Although details of the new spot were not disclosed, Discover said that Pritchard's conversation with clueless Peggy is "along the same lines" as the spots with Holtz and Bowden and plays off the fact that he travels with the Stanley Cup an estimated 150 days a year. The humorous spots with Holtz and Bowden, which tied in with Discover's four-year title sponsorship of the college football Orange Bowl, saw Holtz "motivate" Peggy into cutting the time he would need to get a replacement card from a month to three weeks while Bowden's call was regarding charges on his bill to a cat grooming salon that he did not make.
As part of its support of the NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover. the company is offering "exclusive experiences" for card members who use their Cashback Bonus to purchase tickets, including: (2) tickets to the Honda NHL SuperSkills on Jan. 29, (2) tickets to the NHL Fan Fair and an NHL All-Star Game gift bag. The NHL All-Star Game is being played on Jan. 30 at RBC Center in Raleigh, home of the NHL's Carolina Hurricane. Live TV coverage of both nights will be provided by Versus in the U.S. and CBC and RDS in Canada.
Included as part of its marketing alliance with the league, one Discover card member will win a personal "Day with the Stanley Cup" via the Discover NHL Rewards Program. The program also offers opportunities for card members to redeem their Cashback Bonus rewards for discounts at the NHL's online store and at the NHL Powered by Reebok store in New York, as well as GameCenter Live subscriptions, autographed NHL merchandise and other perks.
“We are delivering game-changing benefits to card members by offering the ability to purchase 2011 NHL All-Star Game tickets with cash back bonus rewards and providing exclusive experiences surrounding the game,” Harit Talwar, president of U.S. Cards at Discover, said in a statement. “This lineup of benefits is another example to hockey fans of how it truly pays to Discover.”
For Pritchard, who has been with the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto since 1988, this is not the first go-around in a national TV spot for a financial firm. In 2002, he was featured in a MasterCard spot as part of its "Priceless" campaign when the company was an official partner of the NHL. That spot followed Prichard as he took the Stanley Cup through airport security and to various locations via limo, including a classroom. A voiceover offered: "Custom crate for Stanley Cup: $2,700. Thirty pairs of white gloves, extra large: $380. Silver polish: $9. Spending every waking moment with hockey's Holy Grail: Priceless. There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard. Official card of the NHL and lifelong fan of Phil Pritchard, keeper of Lord Stanley's Cup."
"We are very proud to be presenting sponsor of the 2011 All-Star Game," Jennifer Murillo, Discover's director of advertising, said during a recent interview with NYSportsJournalism. "Part of what excited us about working with the NHL was their willingness to give our card members special opportunities to really further engage with hockey. Exclusive things that only they can do because they are Discover card members. One of the things we will be offering card members is special access to experiences during the All-Star Game [weekend]. We are very excited about that."
By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor