Credit cards and celebrity pitches: Who should be the next star?

By , CardRatings contributor

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Credit cards attract star power, just like any other product.

Morgan Freeman has narrated many a Visa ad. David Spade has appeared in a few zany Capital One ads. NFL great Peyton Manning starred in some MasterCard commercials. And, of course, American Express (American Express is a CardRatings.com advertiser) has turned the celebrity endorsement into something of an art form.

Anyone over a certain age will likely remember that back in the 1970s, you couldn't go to any channel without seeing stalwart and respected actor Karl Malden imploring television audiences to get an American Express card, saying, "Don't leave home without it."

In the 1990s, Jerry Seinfeld starred in some entertaining American Express ads, and other celebrities including Tiger Woods, Ellen DeGeneres and Tina Fey have also sung the card's praises.

And lately, Capital One has jumped back into featuring celebrities in ads, with both Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Fallon doing some face time on television for the credit card.

But when was the last time a truly memorable credit card celebrity campaign took over our TV sets? The kind where you actually talk about the ad to your friends on Facebook or at the proverbial water cooler. So while we could have been devoting our time to coming up with ideas to save the oceans or reduce poverty, we thought we'd do (almost) the next best thing: offer up suggestions on who we think the next credit card guest star should be.

  1. Type of credit card: Airline rewards card

    The perfect celebrity: Christina Ricci

    Why: For starters, Ricci is currently flying high in the promising ABC series "Pan Am," a show set in the 1960s, which chronicles the melodramatic misadventures of a flight crew on the famed, historic airline that flew the friendly skies from the 1920s to 1991. Having starred in films like "The Addams Family" movies, "Sleepy Hollow" and "Speed Racer," her new series would tie in nicely with a glamorous ad campaign for an airline rewards card designed especially for travelers.

    The pitch: We're picturing Ricci stepping off an airline, with dramatic lighting and perhaps in slow-motion, and then explaining how her fabulous airline rewards card can earn you free flights faster, whether you're a frequent flier or not.

  2. Type of credit card: Secured credit card

    The perfect celebrity: Sarah Ferguson

    Why: The Duchess of York is widely known to have had her share of money woes in the last several years. Fortunately, recent news reports suggest that she may be getting her financial act together, which is why she'd be perfect hawking one of the most reputable secured credit cards out there.

    The pitch: We're imagining an ad in which Ferguson is sitting at a table full of bills with a calculator at her side, looking perplexed at first and then showing off a confident aura as she pulls out her secured credit card. And then she would look into the camera and explain how using the card can help your credit score without costing a bundle in fees.

  3. Type of credit card: Student credit card

    The perfect celebrity: Emma Watson

    Why: If her name isn't well known, her face is. Watson has acted the role of Hermione Granger for umpteen years in the "Harry Potter" movie series. The now 21-year-old Brown University student should have a lot of street cred (or school cred?) when it comes to pitching a student card to the masses. And think of the fun a director could have making a Harry Potter-esque TV ad with a lot of special effects!

    The pitch: "Whether you shop at Diagon Alley or the Gap," Watson could tell everyone in TV land, after turning a boring, droning anthropology professor into a chipmunk, "my student rewards credit card has free text and email alerts designed to keep you on track, and I can score bonus cash back every month just for paying your bill on time."

  4. Type of credit card: Balance transfer credit card

    The perfect celebrity: Piers Morgan

    Why: Well, maybe this is a stretch, but he does have his nightly CNN talk show and he's a mainstay as a judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent." If anyone knows about shuttling from one place to another without a lot of headaches, it's this guy. Besides, if Morgan, who comes across as fairly picky and discerning on "America's Got Talent," says a credit card is far and away better than another one, wouldn't you believe him?

    The pitch: The ideal commercial would have Morgan sitting in a judge's chair with three giant dancing credit cards on a stage. As on "America's Got Talent," he would hit the X button for the first two and then let the last credit card standing finish its act. Why? Because it's excellent balance transfer offer is that special something he's sure America will love.

  5. Type of credit card: Zero APR credit card

    The perfect celebrities: The Black Eyed Peas

    Why: This hip-hop band is beloved and wildly popular, but unlike some music bands, they aren't too edgy for a mass audience, which is likely why they were invited to perform the half-time show at the Super Bowl in 2011. So that's why we think they'd make a great pitch for, say, a 0 percent intro APR card. We're not saying it's the most responsible credit card promotion ever, appealing to youth by flashing the hip hop lifestyle, but worse commercials have been made.

    The pitch: We're thinking a music video in 30 seconds, although admittedly it's a little tough to imagine the Black Eyed Peas actually singing lyrics, like "Zero percent APR for 12 months of fun..." But hey, who knows? This is an ad we'd love to see.


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