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Discover Debuts Platinum Card

Discover Financial Services, Riverwoods, IL, introduced premium credit card Discover Platinum — the company's first platinum offering — and announced plans to gear up a six-month national promotional campaign for the card with direct, print and broadcast elements.

Discover, a unit of securities firm Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., New York, is touting Discover Platinum's enhanced services, especially the new card's double cash-back bonus benefit. The advertising push, dubbed “Expect More,” is designed to appeal to credit card users interested in improved benefits. The campaign's first elements kicked off last week.

“We wanted to enter the market when we had developed a product that could rise above the clutter of other premium cards,” said Beth Metzler, Discover's director of media relations.

The company's Cashback Bonus awards, under which cardmembers can get a check for up to 1 percent of their annual purchase totals, have long been a pillar of the company's marketing strategy for its regular Discover Card. Holders of the new Platinum Card will have the same option of either getting a 1 percent cash-back check or donating the refund to charity, but with the added alternative of receiving a gift certificate worth double the 1 percent reward. The certificates can be redeemed at one of Discover's Platinum Partners, a group of as-yet-undisclosed nationwide merchants from varied product categories. The company plans to identify the merchants early this year.

Discover will launch a direct mail and telemarketing program in January as part of the Platinum card's broader advertising push. Metzler declined to specify the volume of the mailings, except to indicate that it will be “very big.” She added that rather than trying to lure existing cardmembers into an upgrade of sorts, Discover's goal is to attract new accounts.

The company gathered its list of prospects from several sources.

Ad shop DDB Needham/Chicago created the advertising campaign. The media schedule runs through June, with equal rotations of four commercials on network and cable television. Radio spots began in late December and a national print publication starts in March.

In addition to the doubled Cashback Bonus, Discover Platinum offers credit lines of up to $100,000, interest-free cash advances through both ATMs and banks, an option to choose the preferred monthly billing date as well as travel and rental car accidental death insurance.

The card also features online services including electronic home banking, statements and bill payment, fraud protection and discounts from merchants participating in Discover's ShopCenter, a recently launched Internet shopping link at www.discovercard.com.

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