Discover has taken a deeper step into the airline miles rewards card competition, shifting the tone of its TV advertising with its first commercial for the It Miles card it introduced last year.

Discover's most recent ads have focused on security and identity, featuring an ad for its "Freeze It" account security feature and another for free FICO scores (advertised during the company's first Super Bowl spot in 30 years).

But today, security is less of a differentiator, with more banks and mobile wallets incorporating fingerprint authentication and other high-tech account security features. Thus, it was time for the Riverwoods, Ill.-based company's It Miles card to take the spotlight during televised ads that debuted during the Golden Globes awards and will also appear during this year’s Grammy Awards.

"We focus on providing relevant information during different times of the year and across different channels," said Jennifer Murillo, vice president of brand communications for Discover Financial Services.


Discover feels it has a good story to tell in a crowded field in which Capital One is currently pushing its miles card on TV through a pitch by Jennifer Garner. Heavy hitters like Chase's United Miles, the American Express Delta Gold Card and others are promoting more aggressive pricing.

The It Miles card has no annual fee, offers users 1.5 miles for every dollar spent and the ability to fly on any airline at any time. "Customers have really liked the product, which also features free WiFi credits, can be used to credit travel purchases with no blackout dates and offers Discover’s excellent customer service," Murillo said.  

The new marketing is an example of Discover playing to its strengths and its reputation, said Brian Riley, principal executive advisor with CEB TowerGroup.

"It's interesting because Discover truly pioneered the cashback concept, then over time they compressed everything into the one It card, bringing all of their features into one card," Riley said. "Now it has evolved into two cards, one for cash back and one for the miles."

Because Discover has limited use outside of the U.S., the It Miles card pitch may resonate more for domestic travelers, Riley said. But consumers will choose to open a new travel card if the benefits resonate when targeting a specific trip, he added.

"It's actually a big undertaking for Discover to enter the miles card market, but over time, Discover has proven to be just as good, if not better than others, in stimulating the movement of cash back," Riley said.

Past Discover ads have focused on the card brand's customer service, which perennially gets the top or very high ratings in JD Power surveys in that area.

"They should hang their hat on customer service," Riley said. "Their numbers in that area were off the charts."

The Discover "Freeze It" spot will remain in circulation, Murillo said. "The Freeze It feature provides a solution for an everyday moment that many people can relate to," she added.

Discover is evaluating its involvement in this year's Super Bowl along with other media opportunities in the upcoming year, Murillo said.

Its new advertisement is an animated feature with a catchy cover song of  "Don't Fence Me In" by singer Nataly Dawn, encouraging consumers to travel and reward themselves by using the It Miles card.

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