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To savvy investors, Capital One Financial is an acclaimed Wall Street star, a company whose share price has risen tenfold in just five years. Now, the consumer lending company wants to become a Main Street star, a recognized entity with consumers.

This week, Capital One will name D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, to coordinate the lending company's marketing effort, estimated at as much as $100 million.

Capital One, which sells everything from credit cards to cellular service to insurance, wanted an agency that could create ads across its various businesses, said William J. McDonald, senior VP-brand marketing.


DMB&B will create separate advertising campaigns for Capital One's credit cards, Internet site ( and cellular phone service division, America One Communications, this fall. The credit-card effort will include a direct-response TV campaign that will break in the third quarter.

Ads for America One, which will also launch by year's end, are expected to combine traditional media, direct marketing and interactive ads. A third effort will include Internet banner advertising and an overhaul of the company's Web site. Ultimately, the site will cross-sell all of Capital One's products, Mr. McDonald said.


From day one of the pitch, which began late last year, the agency's mission was to prove it could service Capital One's integrated needs, said DMB&B North American President John Farrell.

"From the get-go, we [presented] all the resources Capital One was interested in," said Mr. Farrell. Throughout the pitch process, executives at DMB&B presented case studies about how they service current clients and offered solutions for Capital One's diverse needs.

A multitude of DMB&B units will work on the Capital One assignment: DMB&B, New York, will handle financial services and recruiting; DMB&B, St. Louis, will work on America One Communications; MediaVest, New York, will do media planning and buying; Highway One, San Francisco, will handle affinity marketing; Clarion Marketing & Communications, Greenwich, Conn., will control sales promotion and direct marketing; Blue Marble, New York, will manage Internet services; and DMB&B United Kingdom/IMP, London, will lead Capital One's European financial services marketing efforts.


DMB&B, which competed against undisclosed other shops, is the marketer's first advertising agency. Previously, Capital One's marketing consisted of direct mail campaigns for its credit-card unit. Those direct marketing efforts, which will remain in-house, amounted to $446 million in 1998.

"We were a one-trick pony," said Mr. McDonald. "We have a smooth-running [direct-marketing] machine, but that machine only handles one-third of our strategy." The other two-thirds-brand management to increase awareness of Capital One and cross-selling-are where DMB&B comes in, he said.

For now, the company plans no umbrella branding campaign.


Capital One was spun off from Signet Bank in late 1994. Since then, earnings have grown more than 20% annually. The company, which had 5 million customers when it went public on the New York Stock Exchange, now boasts 18 million customers, with $17.4 billion in managed loans outstanding.

It is among the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa, and ranks among the top 10 credit-card issuers in the U.S. Capital One already signs up more than 15,000 credit-card customers daily, but it wants to increase that number, Mr. McDonald said.

Although DMB&B declined to discuss specific plans for the marketer, agency Exec VP-Chief Branding Officer Susan Giannino did list one top goal: to make "Capital

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