Human Behavior blog

Applying human behavior to current trends in business, marketing, advertising, and public relations.

Another Success for Capital One

Capital One’s recent history is littered with memorable marketing practices.  For over a decade they’ve sponsored the Mascot Challenge, wherein college football fans can vote for their school’s mascot to advance in a playoff-style bracket (the winning mascot gets announced, naturally, during the Capital One Bowl game).  They’ve put Vikings and Visigoths, among other things, in their commercials.  And one of their latest ads, hawking the cash rewards credit card, trades on a few viciously effective psychological principles.

In the ad that television viewers have undoubtedly seen, Jimmy Fallon informs us about the (potential for) increased cash back that the card provides, then proceeds to try to convince an infant of said benefits.  The infant, in turn, responds by throwing Cheerios at Jimmy.  Thus, in the span of about 15 seconds, Capital One makes manipulative use of: a) celebrity endorsements, which prey on our affections for said person to tell us what to think; b) the ‘cute’ factor, which, much like overall physical attractiveness, promotes liking (witness the E-Trade baby); and c) humor, which appeals to people of all stripes and sizes and also facilitates persuasion. 

Kudos to them for packing as many of these affection- and persuasion-inducing techniques into one tiny little ad as they could.