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Something fishy about Discover’s credit cards

Most people think the marketing of financial stuff is as dull as
dishwater.  Maybe that’s why the Goldfish are cleaning the waters to
allow the fish to swim freely … what am I talking about?

Goldfish. 

Goldfish
is a credit card that’s been available in the UK since 1996.
Originally launched by British Gas, a non-bank, and backed by HFC, it’s
been marketed heavily in the past and became the second most recognised
credit card brand in the UK by 2003.

Then it languished as credit card competition heated up and the gas
firm’s interest cooled down.  This was in part because the gas industry was deregulated and British Gas
became Centrica.  As a result, their interest and capabilities to
diversify into finance reverted and they sold the Goldfish portfolio to
Lloyds TSB in 2003.  It was then sold again to Morgan Stanley in 2006.  Morgan Stanley paid £1 billion
for it, netting Lloyds TSB a tidy £175 million, and it increased the
Morgan Stanley UK credit card business by 50% in the process.  Finally, Morgan Stanley spun-off their cards division, Discover, last year and they are now the owners of Goldfish.

So, in order to make a killing in the hot UK credit card markets,
Discover have used a major chunk of their annual marketing budget to
create a campaign with Grey London to revive the card’s fortunes.

Grey London and Stink Digital
worked together to create a brilliant viral website, http://www.meandmygoldfish.com/.  The website uses celebrity
endorsements from folks like Ranulph Fiennes, the explorer; Anthony
Horowitz, the author; Meera Syal, the writer and actress; Rik Mayall,
the nutter and b’stard; and others.

It looks great.

Called "Me and My Goldfish", it’s also an interesting way to rebuild a brand.  The site tells you stories, delivers videos, entertains and is engaging.

As
well as being online, it’s also backed by an extensive advertising
campaign, with posters across most London Underground stations for
example.

As a result, it’s winning the admiration of marketing communities, who like it’s irreverence and different look.

Nevertheless, with the doom and gloom around the credit markets, is it the best timing?  After all, in December, Discover washed away $422 million of goodwill on Goldfish!

Equally, even with a great viral campaign, when I clicked on the "Visit goldfish.com"
link, it didn’t work as the website was down or the link was not the
right link.  It’s not good to have your marketing website running and
your business website out of action, as I’m now entertained but you
lost your chance to get my business Mr. Fishy.

Finally, it also does not mean you can keep things looking that good when you have stinking reviews from customers available online and comparasites everywhere that don’t rate you.

For
all the viral marketing investments in the world, the beauty of the
social internet strikes again and Discover may have just thrown some millions out with the bathwater.

Swimming with sharks might have been a better bet.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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