New Chase Sapphire Reserve Commercial Misses the Point

I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card had perhaps the most celebrated credit card launch in history. So much so that Chase had to file with the SEC when acquisition costs went so far above projections that they became a material event for the bank.

Subject to the 5/24 rule meaning that Chase would generally only approve customers for the card who didn’t have 5 or more new card accounts in the past 24 months, people did crazy things like dress up as a Chase card to get approved.

The card was likely too generous, starting out with a 100,000 point signup bonus offer as well as a $300 travel credit per calendar year on a $450 annual fee card meaning you’d make money in cardmember year one. They dropped the signup bonus in half and they changed the travel reimbursement to match cardmember year so that most would get only only $300 credit per annual fee.

Notably the $0 annual fee the first year (then $95) Chase Sapphire Preferred Card now has a strong signup bonus of 50,000 points after $4000 spend within three months and 5000 points for adding a no annual fee authorized user to the account and making one purchase within the same time period.

The Sapphire Preferred Card earns double points on travel and dining. Sapphire Reserve earns triple points, so the higher fee buys you faster earning. Sapphire Reserve also comes with a Priority Pass card that covers unlimited guests (subject only to limits imposed by an individual lounge). Of course Priority Pass cards come with many premium credit cards like the Platinum Card by American Express so whether or not this adds value depends on what other cards you already have.

It’s a feature-rich card the value of whose fee will depend on how much you need the benefits like Priority Pass and how much you spend on travel and dining.

What’s interesting to me though and this is common in advertising is that Chase has a new television commercial for the card that doesn’t talk about the benefits even though that’s what makes the value proposition compelling.

If you’re selling metal Luxury Cards then put together a lifestyle commercial showing people that your target market customers want to be like.

If you’re selling a card that’s feature-rich and value, play to that strength.

Here it’s 25 seconds in before an actual feature is mentioned, ‘triple points’ flashes onto the screen. No mention of travel credit. No mention of lounges. No mention that these are actually valuable points.

On the other hand I’m happy to see Chase investing in marketing the card, which suggests they believe cardmembers they acquire will become profitable, and perhaps they won’t have to tweak the program much further in order to get the numbers to work. Their acquisition success was a result of the generosity of the product, dismantle that and you undermine the formula.

The product, too, has already shown that people respond to that value proposition. If marketing is figuring out who your customers are and how to find more of them, an effective commercial would double down on features and benefits.