RIVERWOODS, Ill. — The Discover Financial Services, a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley and the issuer of Discover branded cards, has announced a new advertising campaign started at the end of August.

The card brand said the advertisements will focus on the cards “giving consumers more of what’s important to them.” Discover listed these as clarity, control, rewards and service.

“Consumers are seeking a credit card company that puts their needs first and delivers straightforward, great value. Our ad campaign and brand strategy underscore our commitment to helping consumers use credit to make the most of their purchases and finances,” said Margo Georgiadis, executive vice president with Discover. “We want to redefine how consumers think about their relationship with a credit card company by putting consumers back in the driver’s seat so they have complete confidence in using credit to their advantage.”

The campaign will include integrated broadcast, print and online notices and will focus on asking consumers “what if” questions that will be designed to spark their imagination and thinking, the card brand explained.

“Consumers want change. They want less confusing interest rates, disclaimers and fine print. They are looking for a card that provides meaningful rewards, easy-to-use features that put them in control, and one that is backed by responsive customer service,” said Georgiadis. “As part of our brand promise, we are building upon Discover Card’s core strengths and making enhancements to deliver more of what consumers today are truly looking for.”

The card brand said it is focusing on four ways that its card will offer consumers something that other cards do not.

First, Discover cards will keep different aspects of their cards “simple, direct, and easy to understand” the card brand said. Discover cited a recent survey it conducted where almost 60% of U.S. cardholders reported not completely understanding their card terms and conditions.

However, it is unclear how much leeway Discover will have to accomplish this goal. Industry analysts point out that many of the disclosures that card issuers have to include with their card applications statements are dictated by regulation or the need to protect the issuers legally–and legal language rarely boils down to plain language easily.

Second, Discover will continue to play to its traditional strength–the cash back rewards program. Recently the card brand established relationships with 70 leading retailers that allow cardholders to earn enhanced cash back and products for purchases, but Discover reported that 46% of cardholders surveyed reported never redeeming points or cash because they perceived them as not being worth much.

One of the most popular changes may be the way Discover has picked up some of the card management techniques which other card brands have pioneered, such as e-mail alerts reminding cardholders of when payments are coming due, the ability to select payment dates and sort purchases online and receive notification of when purchases or returns post to cardholders’ accounts. More than 70% of cardholders surveyed support these sorts of account management tools, Discover said. Finally, Discover said it would streamline and speed up its customer service. According to its survey, 92% of cardholders want their issues resolved in a single call and more than 80% of U.S. cardholders want to reach customer service representatives quickly. Discover Card measures its ability to resolve issues on the first call, and its customer service representatives are reachable in less than 60 seconds all the time, the brand said. –dmorrison@cutimes.com