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Capital One Cleans Up Samuel Jackson Ad After 'Damning' Criticism

Banks have laid off thousands of people since the financial crisis, foreclosed upon millions of struggling homeowners and helped to upend the world's economy — but what really riles some customers is one bank's endorsement of mild profanity.

Capital One (COF) last week unveiled a commercial featuring the actor Samuel L. Jackson and his celebrated forthright delivery, including of a promise to offer credit card rewards "every damn day." The profanity is tame by most standards, especially from someone known for using much saltier language in films like "Snakes on a Plane."

But the commercial sparked an outsized reaction from angry commenters at various websites, including AmericanBanker.com, BankInnovation.net, and credit card discussion forums. Some of those people threatened to close their accounts or stop using their cards. Now Capital One is replacing at least some airings of the profanity-laced ad with a more G-rated version, in which Jackson promises rewards "every single day."

Bank spokeswoman Pam Girardo said the second version of the commercial was part of a planned series featuring Jackson and Capital One's new Quicksilver credit card.

"The first ad was designed to draw attention to the new campaign," Girardo said in an email. "Our next ads that began airing this week continue to showcase Jackson in a direct and humorous way by dramatizing the ease and superiority of Quicksilver."

She did not respond to questions about the backlash or whether the McLean, Va., bank would continue airing the more "attention-drawing" first commercials.

At least some of the online anger over Jackson's commercial appears to have been marshaled by One Million Moms, a branch of the conservative media watchdog group American Family Association. Its website urges supporters to email Capital One with protests over "the d-word" and requests to pull the "irresponsible and offensive" commercial. (One Million Moms' other current targets include the new NBC series "Dracula," which will "warp the minds of our youth," and Slim Fast, which is airing "inappropriate and tacky" commercials.)

Monica Cole, executive director of One Million Moms, said the organization did not encourage its members to leave angry comments on other websites, "but we do encourage anyone to speak out and let their voice be heard. … Profanity has no place anywhere, really."

Cole says her group has not yet asked its members to stop using their Capital One cards or switch their bank accounts. But bank industry members say Capital One might even be pleased by others' threats to do so.

"I think the people who will close their accounts for a single word aren't necessarily the people Capital One wants to appeal to," says Jim Marous, a senior vice president of corporate development at digital marketing agency New Control.

Jackson, like fellow Capital One celebrity endorsers Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Fallon, is "highly recognizable" to younger people, who are more likely to be amused than upset by the commercial's language, Marous says.

Writing a "damn" into Jackson's script was likely "a conscious decision," he adds. "It's making a point that certainly Chase and Bank of America and Wells can't make, that we're going to look at banking a little differently. … It probably reinforces a brand more than takes away from it."

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Comments (51)
I was looking forward to Costco switching to Visa, but when I found out it was Capital One I was disappointed. As long as Capital One uses the racist loud mouth Jackson we will never sign up for a card.
Posted by Steve S. | Sunday, January 17 2016 at 6:31PM ET
I could not in good conscience EVER get a credit card from a company that endorses someone who is so racist. If the colors were reverse - you would have grown a pair of balls and fired him. Because it would not look good for business offending a color. Well let me inform you "HE OFFENDS" me and owes every white person an apology. Let Facebook spread the word on this.
Posted by WHTE MATERS | Tuesday, January 05 2016 at 2:12PM ET
I am so also disappointed at Capital One and their use of SLJ, we have cancelled all our accounts after (14 years with Capital One) and will not do any more banking with your bank while you use such a mean spirited, racist representative.
Posted by Disappointed | Saturday, January 02 2016 at 7:43AM ET
I am so disappointed at Capital One and their use of SLJ, we have cancelled our personal and business use of all Capital One banking and will not do any more banking with your bank while you use such a mean spirited, racist representative.
Posted by blackburncci | Sunday, October 04 2015 at 1:45PM ET
Not sure why Capitol One started at the bottom of the barrel.SLJ has no class and he is a lousy actor to boot.Why not try to find an intelligent, classy actor. I know it's hard in today Hollywood,but at least there are other choices before settling for this buffoon.
Posted by Thetruth | Tuesday, December 16 2014 at 7:30AM ET
Now it's time for us to call Capitol One and boycott the card,or cancel the account, for SLJ race filled rant. I personally think he was drunk,but also think he is trying to be some kind of sanctimonious, sel-important clown.
Posted by Thetruth | Tuesday, December 16 2014 at 7:16AM ET
I will closing my Capitol One account because of the recent YouTube video posted by Jackson. Bankers have to understand when you pick a celebrity to "star" in your commercials, you might want to pick someone who is not racist because their mouth reflects on your company. Fire him and end commercials with him in them immediately if you have any respect for your customers.
Posted by bpstrout | Monday, December 15 2014 at 9:31PM ET
I didn't like the "D" word in CapOne's commercials, but I object to Samuel Jackson -- who I think is a racist and an anti-capitalist -- being used in the commercials at all! Certainly there must someone better aligned with a financial institution than Jackson.
Posted by TheLittleGuy | Monday, December 15 2014 at 1:47PM ET
GET RID of the Loud Mouth Mother Samuel Jackson or else I take my business elsewhere.
Posted by n.jenkins | Monday, November 24 2014 at 12:48AM ET
I just saw a new Samuel Jackson commercial on NBC. I can't believe he's STILL shilling the Capitol One Card!
I am sick and tired of seeing him and still mute every ad that he is on.
Come on, Capitol One...GET RID OF HIM!
Posted by CometHunter | Thursday, November 13 2014 at 10:02PM ET
Damndamn, your response is the idiotic one, from a business standpoint. Yes, they would lose some accounts by going back to "damn," but they certainly wouldn't GAIN any, so there is no reason to reverse their decision. This was not a political or social justice view that they needed to make to "stand their ground." Capital One is in the banking business, not the morality business.
Posted by hulahulahula | Saturday, April 05 2014 at 3:34PM ET
It's 2014, right? That was my first question after reading all of these idiotic, overly-sensitive, self-righteous comments. People are THIS offended over the word DAMN?

Quit hiding behind all of your "protect the children" BS. Every time these "watchdog" groups want to get their way, they always go straight to "the children". I've got news for you idiots, your kids are hearing a lot worse things from their friends and other adults than the word "damn".

Moreover, is that what we should be concerned about with children? Forget about school shootings and them choking each other out to get a rush. Samuel L Jackson said damn and I find that inappropriate!!!

You morons live in such a false version of reality that you (hilariously) think that you have control over the world your children will be exposed to. Anyone who was offended by this commercial - do the world a favor and quit having children, we don't need your genes or your "moral teachings" polluting future generations.

Capital One, bring back the original commercial. Who cares if a few hundred people cancel their accounts? That's not even a drop in the bucket for your company. Show these idiots where they can stick their sensitivity.
Posted by damndamn | Saturday, April 05 2014 at 3:08PM ET
Personally I do not believe Samuel Jackson is a good spokesperson for your Company. He comes over as angry, hostile and unprofessional. Bad decision to use him. I turn the channel when he comes on.
Posted by swimmer7 | Monday, February 10 2014 at 9:27PM ET
Re: hatterasman: So I am "one pathetic individual"? Oh my, oh my, you are a judgmental person. Check the etymology, damn is not profanity. Following the Middle English back through the Latin origins you'll see the root "damnum" has never been considered profane. Would you also label "damage" and "damnation" as profane? Same etymology. Depending upon ones favorite translation of your bible, damn appears 400 to 500 times - profanely? No. Please remove the stick from your ... (oh better stop, might offend you, tough guy). Have a damn good holiday!
Posted by Damn | Sunday, December 22 2013 at 7:36AM ET
Weenies! I want to hear him say, "What the hell is in your wallet?"...he was in Pulp Fiction for Gods sake. OMG lets not offend any one....Offensive? The bank bailouts...that's offensive! I hear worse language on sitcoms that all those "dear little children" watch AND I am sure their parents are saying...hypocrites.
Posted by bankingdiva | Thursday, December 05 2013 at 10:13PM ET
I find the "original" commercial funny. I rarely watch live TV, and am usually several weeks behind on programs. I'm just now getting to see the original commercial with the "bad language."

I'd take the commercials one step further and have SLJ asking somebody to hand him his wallet....cut to a table with several wallets. One has the BAD MOTHER showing, leaving the bad word obscured. SLJ says "you know which wallet is mine right? It's the one with the Capital One XXXXX card!"

It's gotta be a classic....the movie is almost 20 years old!
Posted by simbak345 | Tuesday, December 03 2013 at 1:24PM ET
RE: Xcutioner... what exactly do you mean, "TV is not free anymore, since major networks went to digital high def broadcasting"? I choose to watch over 30 absolutely FREE over-the-air broadcast TV stations available in my area, which includes the major networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and FOX. They come to me in high definition and I pay absolutely NOTHING for them (unless I donate to PBS). Advertisers (like Capital One) pay for the over-the-air broadcast of these channels. With the exception of PBS, that's why it is called commercial broadcasting. The real suckers are those who pay the ridiculous prices for cable and satellite TV and STILL have to watch TV commercials on just about every channel. Unless you are living in a cave somewhere, several hundred miles from civilization, there is indeed free television to watch in the United States.
Posted by hatterasman | Monday, November 25 2013 at 12:00AM ET
RE: gejames... you are 100% correct. We have no choice when it comes to the TV commercials that we are subjected to. That doesn't mean that we have to like them, and it certainly doesn't mean that we cannot publicly voice our opinion that we do not like them. We do NOT have to cave to the Liberals who desire the ability to shock and offend everyone who still believes in a little morality on TV, even in TV commercials.
Posted by hatterasman | Sunday, November 24 2013 at 11:40PM ET
By the way, TV is still free. I don't have cable and have only network television stations.
Posted by gejames | Sunday, November 24 2013 at 10:31PM ET
People who keep comparing television commercials to television programs are missing the whole point. I can choose not to watch a particular television program if I feel that it is inappropriate. Commercials come on at any time without warning. I heard that Capital One commercial first thing in the morning when I turned on the TV to watch the news. While the "d" word might not seem too offensive, you better believe that if it is allowed in commercials much stronger words will follow. Then you'll be hearing "every f*** day" over breakfast.
Posted by gejames | Sunday, November 24 2013 at 10:19PM ET
post by xcutioner--how do you know the people who post here have not served this great country? oh and yes i meet 'your' standards to make a post here;
Posted by backcracker | Wednesday, November 20 2013 at 11:06PM ET
RE: "Damn" If getting your attention requires profanity, you are one pathetic individual indeed. One does not need to use profanity to be a tough guy.
Posted by hatterasman | Wednesday, November 20 2013 at 12:27AM ET
Capital One had my attention and my respect "every damn day" until they wimped out to conservative views. Our children can handle a common word used by a tough guy "every single day." COF change your ad back to the original!
Posted by Damn | Tuesday, November 19 2013 at 9:42PM ET
Leave it to Capital One to introduce profanity to one of the last profanity free areas of everyday life, TV commercials, and who else would they have hired but the film industry's profanity king, Samuel L. Jackson. It will not be long before we are being told to "eat your toasted O-shaped cereal every damn day and lower your cholesterol". Yes... Jim Marous is quite the moron if he believes that the average American with any morals left at all agrees with his pathetic Liberal philosophy.
Posted by hatterasman | Monday, November 18 2013 at 10:15PM ET
Getting a little more off-topic here, but for instance, if my parents were still alive, I think they would enjoy "The Daily Show" if it weren't for all the profanity (even with the bleeps, you know what they are saying). I don't think it adds anything to the commentary most of the time and turns off some people. Why would TV shows, movies AND COMMERCIALS want to do that? Those who use/like profanity would still watch (or buy/use the product). It only decreases their potential consumer base.
Posted by hulahulahula | Monday, November 11 2013 at 11:20AM ET
Tipsy..did you complain to the show??
Posted by SWANSEAIL | Monday, November 11 2013 at 10:46AM ET
Really?! Our children are subjected to more sinister things than the word "damn"- which also just happens to be a biblical word. I think the audience they were targeting was reached. I personally laughed about it and giggled again later that day while in the store using my Capital One card!! The show "Fashion Police" has a segment called "bit** stole my look". I take more offense to being called a bit**!
Posted by Tipsy9 | Saturday, November 09 2013 at 10:15AM ET
Marous makes an additional unfortunate comment when he says "young people are more likely to be amused than upset by the commercial's language." What does that say about us as a culture? Have people become so desensitized to this filth and denegration that it doesn't even affect them anymore? Where does it stop? What a sad, sorry state of affairs that is.
Posted by pegpaw | Friday, November 08 2013 at 9:13AM ET
I think you'll do just fine...and maybe you'll be the author of the book that hasn't been written yet...How to Be a Good Parent
Posted by SWANSEAIL | Thursday, November 07 2013 at 9:13AM ET
Thanks guys. I'm sure my views will change as they are ever changing anyway with knowledge and experience. You are right about education starting at home and I am trying to be the best parent I can be. Debates like this are great as they can add value and insight to ones perspective. I guess profanity can be like a drug. One may not think marijuana is that bad but it can be a gateway drug to other more powerful life shattering drugs. I am almost 40yrs with a past that soley involed me. I waited longer than most to have a child. Now with my little girl, My whole world has changed. I love everything about her and I don't want to totally shelter her from the real world because in order to protect her from the enemy she has to know what the enemy looks like, sounds like, acts like, etc. I've got a road ahead of me that, I'm sure, is going to hold lessons for the both of us. I just pray to GOD that I don't screw up too much. Thanks again for sharing your comments and thoughts.
Posted by Xcutioner | Thursday, November 07 2013 at 8:25AM ET
Xcutioner, you're done (here) but I echo SWANSEAL's "good luck" comments. The "D" word is a slippery slope to the "F" word. Your moniker also says a lot about how little (or maybe how much!) value you place on words and how they are perceived by others. Profanity offends some people, so why companies, talk show hosts, etc., choose to offend a certain segment of the population when they can make the same point without profanity eludes me. With Capital One, it's about the bottom line. Perhaps the intent WAS to attract attention--if so, they succeeded, and I have to think that was the purpose. If not, they certainly were dumb. And you, too, are naive if you think all parents speak civily around their children--they don't ALL pick it up on the streets.
Posted by hulahulahula | Wednesday, November 06 2013 at 12:39PM ET
I'm sure you are aware that kids are the 'great imitators'. Don't think for a minute that your 1 year old hasn't already started to pay attention to what mommy and daddy are doing and saying. Education begins at home, that's where they learn the basics...what to say and what not to say. On the street (around their buddies) they pick up the rest of it. So good luck with the battle you will be facing for the next 18 years and other kids parents that don't see it the way you do.
Posted by SWANSEAIL | Wednesday, November 06 2013 at 11:59AM ET
I didn't say "If you don't use profanity you will be left behind. What I am saying is that if we don't accept that on occasion we will incounter people using profanity. Swanseail, I agree with how you handled your situation. If vulgar profanity is used then I will step away or call them on it too. I have a little girl that will be turning 1 in a few days. The "D" word is not ugly. It is used by most all of us. I bet alot of the people that are complaining about this commercial ad use that word around their children all the time. I do not condone vulgar profanity at all. It's not like he said, "Every F-ing Day" or "Every MF-ing Day". I'm done with this topic anyway. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I wish everyone a great day!
Posted by Xcutioner | Wednesday, November 06 2013 at 11:19AM ET
Recently I was at the playground with my 5 year old granddaughter. There were 3 young adults (mid 20s) sitting behind me speaking laud enough for others to hear. Lots of little ears around. There language became quite colorful and I called them on it. I think they were surprised that someone actually said something and they cleaned up the conversation. Maybe they got the idea that others don't necessarily condone this type of uneducated speech, free or otherwise. And yes I served my country for 24 years in the US Air Force.
Posted by SWANSEAIL | Wednesday, November 06 2013 at 9:51AM ET
I am not as offended by the "d" word as i am by your assumption that if one does not use profanity, s/he will be left behind. If this is your measurement of progress, I feel sorry for you.
Posted by hulahulahula | Tuesday, November 05 2013 at 6:20PM ET
Hulahulahula and all others who are so REDICULOUSLY upset and offended by this topic,

I do vote, and I take pride in voting. Am I concerned if our president gets a little loving on the side, absolutely not as long as he can run our country the way it should be ran, Keep our economy moving in the right direction and operating in the black. His private life is none of my concern as mine is none of his. The D*** word in this commercial is not used in a negative way. In fact it is used in a positive way by putting an EMPHASIS on everyday. Now, obviously the tenderfeet of this nation has won this battle because the commercial has been changed. Be prepared though. Like "lovemenots" stated above, profanity is used on a daily basis, everywhere. Some words have been uncensored on network TV. What is going to be your rebuttle to that, Locking yourself in your house with a pair of headphones on playing feel good music? The world and how we live in it is ever-changing. Adapt or you will be left behind.
Posted by Xcutioner | Tuesday, November 05 2013 at 1:06PM ET
Xcutioner and others--of course capital One is not going to care if I close my accounts. But obviously ENOUGH people voiced a concern--your attitude is just like the people who don't vote because they feel one vote won't count. I am thrilled that so many contacted Capital One and it obviously had an effect. As to those who say 'get a life"--yes we'll hear far worse on the street, but why legitimize profanity? It has no place in commercials and adds nothing to the advertising campaign.
Posted by hulahulahula | Tuesday, November 05 2013 at 12:04AM ET
What is wrong with Capitol One as both of the spokesmen aren't worth the money spent to have them advertise. Mr Jackson is a very terrible face for this company or any others as well as Mr Baldwin as he support occupy Wall Street. Oh well Jamie Diamon supported Mr President Barack Obama so all the bankers have some type of burr under the saddle. It doesn't help business.
Posted by GGirl | Monday, November 04 2013 at 10:12PM ET
Dear CaseTate:

Get real!!!! One day you are going to be in the mall or the grocery store and something is going to happen someone and they are going to say much worse what are you going to do then, protest the store to put up a no profanity sign or something. I think it's you who lack common sense. And a lot of NETWORK TV shows use the "d" word, it's not even a censored word anymore on shows. And if people are that offended by a little word how about turning off the TV and in fact don't even go anywhere since I'm sure a curse word does slip from people pretty much everywhere. Common sense is required to understand which I'm guessing you lack
Posted by lovemenots | Monday, November 04 2013 at 9:21PM ET
Thanks, Capital One! As I was preparing a protest, I see that you have already corrected your error. This word seems extremely minor to most of these people who have grown up in this already deteriorated society that is falling under the guise of free speech. But it is yet another "chink in the armor" in the polite and courteous lives that we cherish. Your marketing agent's Senior VP Jim Marous should be made aware that negative attention in advertising is not always a good thing.
Posted by cozmos | Monday, November 04 2013 at 9:04AM ET
Go ahead and close your accounts! Do you REALLY think Capitol One is such a small company that it would crindge at the fact you closed your accounts... Get a grip people!! It's just a word!! Stop being so thin skinned and grow a pair.
Posted by Xcutioner | Monday, November 04 2013 at 7:16AM ET
I was really glad to hear the new ad a few moments ago. I have A Capital One checking account and credit card (and for my BUSINESS). I sent an email threatening to close my accounts. Got kind of a cookie-cutter response, but apparently it helped. I'm no prude, but there is absolutely no need for this language in this commercial.
Posted by hulahulahula | Sunday, November 03 2013 at 11:44PM ET
I have enough trouble filtering media content when my Grandkids are around, so I was particularly upset with this new ad. And if this was their "plan" to get attention, they succeeded. Unfortunately for them, it has made me not very anxious to change to Capital One. I also read that one executive said if people were going to leave their bank over that one word, then they weren't the type Capital One was looking for. WHAT? Are you serious? Because I choose to filter what young kids hear, I'm not their type? How ridiculous...
Posted by opman | Sunday, November 03 2013 at 4:18PM ET
The American Family Association is yet another illustration of how Christianity is the dark side of the Force.
Posted by ultrabomb | Sunday, November 03 2013 at 3:30PM ET
Capital One shouldn't have started airing a version in which Samuel Jackson says "single" instead of "damn." Sometimes you have to make a stand against stupidity.
Posted by ultrabomb | Sunday, November 03 2013 at 2:54PM ET
TV is not free anymore, since major networks went to digital high def broadcasting. If we as a nation are going to get upset over the word Damn being said on national television because it's offensive, then people, we have too many soft hearted, easily offended little flowers in this country. Go out, join a branch of military, defend our beautiful country from tyrants and communists, spill your blood for this country, THEN you can have a say in what is offensive. Otherwise stay locked up in your fairytale world and leave the rest of us alone.
Posted by Xcutioner | Friday, November 01 2013 at 9:37PM ET
After reading some of the comments by those who think Capitol One should not have 'buckled' under a minority of complaints about using the 'D-word', let me just say this. Ok, so YOU aren't offended by the word - I'm not either, BUT when you hear Jackson using far worse language in movies keep in mind you are PAYING to see that. This commercial was airing on major tv networks that are FREE (you do NOT have to have cable to see network tv) and there is an audience that WILL be offended. Why would you cut off your nose to spite your face if you're Capitol One and trying to gain customers?!! Again - 'Common Sense' is required to see this argument.... something too many people involved in this argument lack.
Posted by CaseTate | Friday, November 01 2013 at 10:40AM ET
I was glad to see that they changed the word " damn," to" single day." No need for this, they can say what he wants in their R rated movies. Child see this and not good language for them. Thank-you
Posted by busyline9 | Friday, November 01 2013 at 8:22AM ET
We were amazed by the outpouring of comments on Bank Innovation. Truth be told, we posted the video innocently enough -- to highlight Samuel L. Jackson as Capital One's new spokesman. The "d***" controversy was not what we expected.

In the interest of full disclosure, we alerted Capital One to the outrage and asked for comment -- repeatedly. We got none. Well, perhaps that's not true. The company's "comment" took the form of a cleaning up of the ad, and that, in and of itself, "says" something.

JJ Hornblass, Executive Editor, Bank Innovation
Posted by hornblass | Thursday, October 31 2013 at 10:06AM ET
Do a quick Google search of the threatening, homophobic, sexist, and racist things Alec Baldwin has said and tweeted publicly in just the short time he has been the "face" of Capital One. And yet he continues to smile away on countless commercials and ask what's in our wallets. Not thinking they're that worried about image.
Posted by mrsmy2cents@gmail.com | Thursday, October 31 2013 at 9:14AM ET
Love it, love it, love it! Kudos, Capital One! Isn't it enough to sell your product on merits alone, without resorting to shock value? Marous is a moron. He's in a dangerous industry if the positioning of words have such little value to him.
Posted by pegpaw | Wednesday, October 30 2013 at 10:59PM ET
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