If you are a fan of NFL football and/or video game sports, you’ve doubtless heard of “the Madden Curse.” According to the story, the player whose image graces the cover of the best-selling football video game (in part because EA Sports snagged an exclusive deal with the NFL) suffers mightily in the year to come. This has been borne out enough times to lend to the story some tangible truth.
But it is time for NHL hockey fans to recognize another curse … the Peggy Curse. Peggy, for those of you not in the know, is at the center of Discover Card’s advertising campaign about its customer service (I can testify that the service is indeed excellent, Discover, so where’s my ad?). Currently several long-running ads feature NHL players (and my close personal friend, the Stanley Cup) calling customer service about a problem at the point of sale with their non-Discover cards (USA Prime Credit Card, for those who need to avoid a fictional company). Here, for example, is Boston’s Tim Thomas:
Let’s examine this for a moment. Tim Thomas plays for the Boston Bruins … but he’s telling us that Boston cabbies are bad news. Trashing the home fans, Timmy? Wonder what he thinks of cabbies in Vancouver … or Washington, DC. There’s also an undertone of seething sexual obsession in the city that invented the tea party back in 1773. Perhaps Thomas is sinking in the back seat like a crate of bad tea because he gave up the OT winner to Washington in the first round. After all, once a long-suffering team finally wins something, things are never quite the same again … because with success comes expectations to repeat, and of course the Bruins came up short this spring (never underestimate how hard it is to repeat as champion … especially when you repeat three straight times).
And then there is the ad featuring the pretty boy of the Chicago Blackhawks, Patrick Kane:
Note that this commercial does not take place in a cab in, say, Buffalo.
Again, Kane was key in bringing the Stanley Cup to Chicago in 2010, which had not hoisted the silver chalice since the first spring of the Kennedy administration. Since then, however, the Hawks have been ousted twice in the first round of the playoffs. Why is that important, you ask? Well, here’s the third commercial, featuring my good friend, the Stanley Cup, and one of its handlers, Phil Pritchard:
… wait, what’s that you say? The video is “private”? Hey, Discover! You don’t run an ad campaign by keeping your ads private!
Perhaps that’s because Discover has learned that I’ve caught on the the Peggy Curse … because in the commercial, Pritchard’s trying to buy a plane ticket to take the Stanley Cup to Chicago. He won’t need to do that this year.
And that’s the key to the Peggy Curse. Once you are on the commercial, there’s no Stanley Cup in your future. Even if there was one in your immediate past (no, Islanders fans, 1980-1983 does not count as the immediate past).
Note the wisdom of Discover in deciding that there was no need to feature players from Canadian teams. None of them are going to win the Stanley Cup, anyway. I’ve spent more time with the Stanley Cup since the spring of 1993 than has a single player from a Canadian-based team. Just sayin’.
Now, given the labeling on this video, Discover has some branding issues to address:
Even Rangers fans know the difference between Discover and MasterCard.
So, folks, beware: once one of the guys from your favorite hockey team is featured on this commercial, it’s over. You’ll all feel like fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Your team may tease you, but at best it will be one-and-done for years to come.