Credit card commercials have come a long way since Karl Malden shilling American Express in the 1970′s. As it gets increasingly more difficult to fight for consumer’s attention, credit card companies have been getting increasingly sillier in their attempts to make you laugh. Here’s a look at our favorites.
Jackie Chan and Yao Ming
Everyone knows the face of Jackie Chan: he’s part action hero, part comedian. Visa had a big sponsorship for the 2008 Olympics, and they used Chan for his shtick. Don’t miss the cameo appearance by NBA star Yao Ming at the end.
Conan Chases the Details with American Express
Conan O’Brien is a very smart guy—he went to Harvard, you know. So when he is looking for the best set pieces for his talk show, undoubtedly he’ll go to India and supervise their creation personally. While the premise is ridiculous, the cinematography and humor in this commercial series are brilliant (and don’t miss the outtakes video here.)
Purchase Protection – When You Need It
Let’s face it: not every product you buy is going to work as advertised. You may have experienced this problem before, like that time you bought a Snuggie on television and it melted away when you washed it. It’s much funnier, though, when it involves a head smash, a crotch slam, and a falling bookshelf.
Not Who You Expected
Not to be outdone by Chase, Citibank has a series of commercials with people not acting quite themselves. This shows customers that Chase will closely scrutinize any uncharacteristic to catch potential thieves. Question: has this guy has stolen someone’s identity, or just spent too long on steroids?
The Power of Proximity
Barclay has a card that doesn’t require you to swipe it, but instead simply wave it at a cash register for purchase. There could be some dangerous uses for a card like this, but showing a guy paying for stuff while he is descending on an urban waterslide is a much better way to portray how useful this technology is. Plus, it’s so much more realistic!
David Spade and Capital One
It’s always fun to see David Spade smack someone around, which is often what it feels like when you’re trying to get your credit card company to redeem those airline miles. It’s sad to see Chris Farley missing from this commercial, but Spade plays well off his Chris Farley stand-in.
This commercial comes from the land of Australia, featuring another attempt to ease the fear of credit card users about their card information being stolen. In this one, the employees of this issuer are required to go through a hilarious labyrinth of security measures just to get into their office, only to find that the key doesn’t work.
Tina Fey is Too Busy
This commercial from American Express shows that for busy professionals, American Express fraud protection can save you a lot of hassle. Some great Tina Fey moments in here, including, “No, the other kind of German Shepherds.”
Seinfeld Doesn’t Understand
Ever wonder what a comedian would do if they performed in another country? Don’t worry, because Jerry Seinfeld will show you. Yes, the humor between America and Britain is vastly different, with slang that often needs a translator to understand. Here’s a look at adjusting, with a tip of the hat to American Express.
Customer Service – Not Enough Points!
Ever noticed how many points it takes to get rewarded for something? This commercial is a great example of how credit card companies love to push rewards cards – and a great example of why Australia has the funniest credit card commercials, hands down.
Scorsese Does American Express
Martin Scorsese is known for creating serious, often violent, films. Who would have thought that he could be a funny person? Here is an Amex spot where he shows that although his movies are incredibly dramatic, the director can do a little comedy from time to time.
MacGyver Gets it Done
The “MacGyver” television series was brilliant, but bringing the concept back for the purpose of selling credit cards may be even more ingenious. Now, if only they could find a way to work in MacGruber.
Did we say that credit card commercials couldn’t be funny? It’s good that we didn’t, because everyone thinks that role playing, bears, and blow darts are pretty silly. Plus, since this is from Australia (the accent gives it away) you’d never see this on American TV.
Vikings – Not Sophisticated
Your average Viking surely doesn’t know much about credit cards. That’s why when you give them rewards perks, they don’t know what to do. We didn’t even realize they were capable of speaking in a proper British accent, but apparently today’s Vikings have become much more refined.
Superman, Seinfeld, and American Express
This commercial is full of superhero (and Seinfeld) humor. This was part of a short film series that Seinfeld did with the famous hero for American Express, some of which were cut down to 30-second versions for TV. (Check out the Web versions, which are even better.)
Superman and Seinfeld – A Little Vacation
In one of these web-only clips, Superman and Seinfeld take a little road trip for some relaxation. Less a commercial than a short film, it’s fun to watch Seinfeld throw one-liners at Superman, who is unable to defend himself. (Does it get any funnier than Superman not being able to open a pistachio?)
Obtaining that New Car
It’s no joke: if you want to buy a new car, you’re going to need pretty good credit. Otherwise you’ll be paying a lot of interest over the life of the vehicle. This is something the FreeCreditReport.com people understand, and are playing to their target audience with this jalopy.
Wes Anderson’s Director’s Cut
Wes Anderson is the director of such films as The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Anderson must really like his American Express card, because he shot this director’s cut of a commercial specifically for Amex. It shows in a very funny way how difficult it is to be a director: so many choices, so many interruptions!
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