After a summer of Chase challenging competitors left and right over credit card rewards ads (see here), Discover decided to fight back. (Since NAD does not allow counter claims the only recourse for an Advertiser is to file a separate complaint against a Challenger.) Discover said Chase’s campaign falsely disparaged its cash back reward program saying “don’t get shortchanged” with the leading cash back reward program. Chase argued it was highlighting that its program supposedly gave customers richer rewards. Discover said the campaign could be understood to say its program cheated customers out of due rewards or violated its own terms of service. NAD did not go this far but it agreed that one reasonable interpretation of the ad by “shortchanged” was that the Discover program gave customers less cash back than they deserved and was so inferior to the Chase card as to cheat people. NAD found such a claim to be false and recommended that Chase discontinue its campaign. This is really no surprise as NAD is a notoriously harsh critic of expressly comparative claims that have any real element of subjectivity.
Discover also asserted it was deceptive for Chase to call its program a cashback card when customers actually earned reward points that could be redeemed for cash or other goods. They submitted lots of survey evidence showing consumers preferred cash back over rewards programs. They pointed to t/c that said Chase could change the rewards at any time. Discover said this differed from its true cashback program. NAD disagreed and said if customers can redeem their rewards point for cash in the promised amount (1% on purchases) it was fine to call it a cashback program. The fact that consumers could opt to get merchandise or gift cards instead did not take away from the viable option to request greenbacks as the reward. In other words, what the program is called really did not matter as it was the payoff consumers really cared about (or in adlaw speak “was material”).