Capital One Financial (COF) is saying goodbye to the executive responsible for its ubiquitous "What's in your wallet?" tagline.
The McLean, Va., company announced Tuesday that Bill McDonald, its head of brand marketing since 1998, is retiring to focus more time on his corporate board responsibilities and pursue other interests.
McDonald joined Capital One when it was strictly a credit card company and did the bulk of its marketing through direct mail, and over the next 14 years helped establish it as one of the nation's most recognizable consumer brands.
The awareness was built primarily through television ads — featuring bumbling visigoths and A-list celebrities such as Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Fallon — and was bolstered by its sponsorship of high-profile sporting events, including college football's Capital One Bowl. Its "What's in your wallet?" tagline is so well known and has been so effective that it was recently inducted into the advertising hall of fame.
"Bill has brought our brand to life in ways that few could have imagined," Richard Fairbank, Capital One's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "Bill has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest brand executives in the business. It has been my privilege to work alongside such a creative and talented leader."
Two of McDonald's longtime deputies, Peter Horst and Marc Mentry, have been named co-heads of the branding unit and will report to the company's chief enterprise services officer, Frank LaPrade.
Horst is the senior vice president of brand marketing and has been responsible for integrating the brands of North Fork Bank, Hibernia Bank, Chevy Chase Bank and ING Direct after they were acquired by Capital One. Mentry is the senior vice president of marketing communications responsible for global advertising, sports sponsorships, media planning and new product development.
McDonald is staying on through February to help with the transition. In a statement he said that Capital One is one of the most "innovative" brands around, and "that won't change after I'm gone."
"I will be leaving with full confidence in the talented and creative and exceptional marketing professionals on my team who will lead the brand forward," he said.