Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Do Discover Card's Peggy Commericals Appeal to our Xenophobia or Are they Just Clever?
I'm not trying to start a mess, y'all. When I first saw Discover Card's commercial series featuring Peggy, I laughed. She works for "USA Prime Credit" and is a bearded, incompetent customer service representative played by a white male who speaks with a thick accent, choppy English, and she only responds "yes." Again, I laughed. Who hasn't dealt with a "Peggy"? And what a way to send the message that those foreign customer service reps seem to be part of some kind of massive deception and are not who they claim to be.
However, when I first saw the ad I also thought that someone at Discover's advertising agency, which according to AdWeek is The Martin Agency, cleverly dodged being called "racist" or "xenophobic" by giving Peggy all the audible traits of a customer service contractor from a foreign country while presenting the visual image as white male.
What do you think? Does Discover Card get a pass on its Peggy series because it's really about poor customer service or is the company appealing to some lower level of our humanity?
UPDATE: When I first posted this, I wanted to add a video preview of NBC's new show Outsourced, which is about customer service being outsourced to India, but I was tired, and so, I went to bed. I expect to hear of some fallout on this show. It may be very funny, but whenever you hit cultural issues and conflict head on, someone may not think it's amusing. This is food for thought in our so-called post-racial world.