The Big Brand Theory: Capital One’s Big Ka-ching



ImageIn days past, a car window would be rolled down; a phone would be dialed; and a cash register would sing out, Ka-Ching! Now, those car windows glide down at the push of a button, we key-in phone numbers (unless you’re directing your phone by voice!), and – cash registers? Transactions often simply require a swipe of a card on a small device; all too often without even so much as a swoosh.

Despite the fact that cash registers went the way of horehound candy and three-martini lunches the onomotopoeiac “ka-ching” lives on in our collective memory.

The marketers at Capital One, the financial services and credit card company, discovered this fact in the course of their research. According to Noha Abdalla, the Director of Social Media, “when we did social listening, we found that when people were talking about winning moments, they used the phrase “ka-ching.”

Interestingly, it wasn’t just the small wins, such as finding a five-dollar bill in the parking lot. Adalla said that they were sharing emotionally connecting moments like when they beat cancer the second time; finished a first marathon; when a daughter was born; or when a first child in family went to college. Ka-ching! These were the BIG wins. And people were using the hashtag.

The decision was made to tie #kaching in with a major initiative. In October, 2012, the brand re-launched and rebranded their cash card. The new name, Quicksilver, required both a push around awareness, as well as a strong association with the value proposition. Capital One had already enjoyed some success tying a hashtag in with advertising, but in this case, the hashtag would play an even more central role.

This is big. You might point back to the 2013 Superbowl ads, and remember that hashtags had become a feature in over 50% of those ads. In this case with Capital One, though, DDB Chicago created a video in which we’ve got no one less than the iconic actor Samuel L. Jackson instructing viewers to hop on Twitter and to use the hashtag.

Abdalla frequently peppers the conversation with mentions of passion points, those real-life things that people are passionate about, and not typically about the promotion of a brand. “We wanted to reinforce the value proposition of cash back on every purchase.  But didn’t want to make that the main point in social – we wanted to make it part of a conversation.”

Abdalla described the contest part of the campaign: “We decided to challenge people to share with us their own everyday wins – their ka-ching moments – for a chance to win 1.5% cash back on the number of tweets that we got with people talking about their winning moments – every time we hit 100,000 tweets that were all about winning moments we picked a lucky winner that had used the hashtag.” The choosing of the winner was random but they had to have used the hashtag.

With QuickSilver, the marketers at Capital One seem to have found a message in which they connected people’s passion, the value proposition, and integrated visually and from messaging perspective. Abdalla is clearly proud of campaign.

“There is acknowledgement that in social we’re doing more and higher in funnel… that we’re creating positive interactions and brand love. But we are being asked about efficiency in spend. The pass-it-on factor gives you earned impressions. This allows you to create a calculation that shows that social is a better way to reach people.

Does the marketing team at Capital One have to justify their efforts in terms of ROI? They certainly do – not so much of social media in general, but whether effort and funds are best applied there. When asked by one executive about the ROI, she said, “I just had to show him the tweets. I don’t have a scientific measure of engagement; but if you look at these, they’re proof that people were connecting with the brand.”

The Big Brand Theory is an exclusive column for Social Media Today written by Ric Dragon that explores the social media strategies of big brands, both B2B and B2C. Look for the next installment next Monday. Logos by Jesse Wells.

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