Capital One is one of those companies that spends a lot on commercials, and I’ve never given them too much thought. Like Geico, they try lots of different themes, and if one seems to get a good response, then they make lots more like it. So we got lots of Geico Gecko commercials and caveman commercials, and I guess Capital One must have gotten positive feedback from their silly barbarian commercials, because we also saw a lot of those.
Here is one commercial campaign, for CO’s small business Spark Card, that I hope dies a horrible death:
Here we have a small business owner whose employees are literally doing gymnastics to get attention, and he decides that his employee of the month is a credit card. Now, I don’t think that Capital One is deliberately trying to send a message that employees are just replaceable cogs in the machine of business, but they certainly aren’t trying to NOT send that message either.
Contrast that commercial with this one:
Here, American Express profiles a real small business owner who values his credit card because it gives him another way to reward his employees. As a former owner of a small business, and someone who is now in the management track of a larger one, I can tell you that the second commercial resonates far better with me and the relationship I want to have with the employees I manage.
I have no idea if the corporate culture at Capital One or American Express is actually represented by these commercials. Maybe Capital One treats its employees with incredible respect and dignity, and American Express is a terrible employer. Most likely, they are both pretty good companies to work for.
I do think it says something about what Capital One and American Express think small business owners value.