Capital One Marketing Team Soothes Wounded (LSU) Tigers

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Forget last weekend's tough loss on the gridiron — Tigers Country is good for business.

Capital One Financial's sponsorship of Louisiana State University athletics is said to have brought in more than 150,000 people to its branches in the last four years, so the company felt obliged to cheer up LSU fans this week after the 21-17 defeat at the hands of archrival Alabama on Saturday.

Capital One's Facebook site dedicated to LSU on Sunday thanked the fans for an "electrifying last night." The site over the weekend received 2,000 more "likes" — now at more than 34,300 since the site launched last year.

The sponsorship campaign, called "Show Your Stripes," is crucial for Capital One in attracting retail and business customers throughout Louisiana, said Robert Stuart, the McLean, Va., company's head of middle-market banking and the Lousiana market.

Capital One has made its fourth season as the official bank of LSU athletics its "biggest effort yet," Stuart said. The $302 billion-asset Capital One is giving away 140,000 Tiger towels at every branch in Louisiana and gave some away at the game Saturday. (No doubt many were used to soak up tears.)

The bank also offered an LSU commemorative coffee table book to anyone who speaks with a banker at its Louisiana branches. 

"We're hoping to target everybody, but a lot of it is clearly geared toward the retail consumer," said Stuart, an LSU alum.  Still, "many commercial and business banking clients in Louisiana are also LSU fans."

Capital One (COF) got a toehold in the state when it acquired Hibernia Corp. in 2005. Now it's the largest deposit holder in the state. Capital One had nearly 20% of the state's market share, or $17.6 billion in deposits at June 30, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

LSU has seven main sponsors during the season, but this is the first year Capital One was the lead sponsor during the dramatic 'Bama game.

"We're pleased LSU picked this as our game," Stuart said last week before the game. The stadium holds more than 90,000 people, but Stuart estimated there were about 150,000 people on campus for the event. Capital One got a lot of exposure during the game with its blimp, advertising on the big screen and the participation of executives, including Stuart, in the coin toss. Fans who won a video contest on Capital One's LSU Facebook page also joined executives on the field.

"We have a very active sponsorship," Stuart said. "We're really using this to help leverage the whole campaign around being the official bank for LSU athletics."

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