The new Capital One commercial shows one of the Vikings from the original series being interviewed at a hot dog stand. He owns the stand. He mentions that, now that the Vikings can't pillage people anymore, as everyone has switched to Capital One, they now have taken to regular jobs. One shot shows a Viking as a flight attendant, and the ball with spikes hits people in the head as he is walking down the isle. Another shot shows a frustrated Viking slam a pair of shoes on the floor as he cannot appease a woman who is trying to buy a pair of shoes a size small. Even another shows a Viking falling from a telephone pole, as he is trying to reestablish service for the customer.
The pun is that while the Vikings loved pillaging people, they aren't so good at service jobs. The metaphor is, of course, that those credit card companies aren't so well as helping you either, although Capital One is. Capital One is not a Mastercard; what you buy on their accounts is not "priceless", or invaluable. There aren't any special memories with Capital One, except that their card can help you reestablish your credit, if you help them out as well. Those with good credit get a great rate with Capital One, with tens of thousands of dollars in credit. Those without are lucky to get 200 bucks, at a rather high rate.
Yet aggressive advertising is what put Capital One at the top of the heap, at the forefront. At least you could get a card from them, in spite of your credit. Hey, they might even help you liquidate those old charged off accounts; assuming you'll repay the balance to them. But this isn't really about Capital One, it is about any company that is willing to pour millions into advertising, just to get a few customers who will tell other customers and so on and so forth. Remember that extravagant campaign for Chanel # 5 that was supposed to feature Nicole Kidman and cost millions of dollars to shoot? It was supposed to break new ground, but Lagerfeld ended up showing it on the screen of some gimmick by Chanel, a "Chanel TV belt". Yes it actually showed television on the screen in the belt; old Chanel commercials. Instead of being watched on millions of television sets around the globe, it ended up on IFILM.
These days companies are accused of going entirely too far to promote a product, by suggesting that the product encapsulates a lifestyle, or helps support one, or that the product can help accomplish goals in a persons life that have little, if anything, to do with what is being sold. Think those old pets.com commercials that appeared during the Super Bowl. While this approach may have worked for fashion designers back in the day (notably Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, both of which abused the right to portray WASPish environments and over-sexualized content), these days sarcasm and satire are needed to get the job done.
Perhaps the consumer doesn't mind it so much as long as the commercials are successful in invoking laughter, as a diversion from the original message. Think AOL High Speed commercials, in which a subject was transported back into time or disappeared from existence by breaking the speed of light. The idea of nerds who are obsessed with technology doing anything and everything to accomplish a goal, regardless of how dangerous, is a familiar sentiment. AOL suggesting that High Speed internet access is light years ahead of dial up, while ludicrous, is at least palpable under this form of comedy.
Advertising will always be with us; and even if a consumer does not jump off the couch and buy the products right away they will at least be planted in their mind. It's a bit different on the internet as there are about as many ads as there are pages, and while you will inevitably return to that page, you might never see those ads again. The ad revenue isn't quite as spectacular either, and a website owner can't charge a half million dollars simply to show an ad. While internet ads have work under a model that suggests greatiency, as advertisers might not be wasting as much money to get results they do not compensate owners as well as publishers would like. Then again, if only 100 people are visiting your site every day, with about half as many click throughs, and a about a tenth of those actually buying something from your advertisers it doesn't hold a candle up 20 million people watching a television program, in any given hour, either.
Of course Nielsen is exploiting their own position of being an authority on research (albeit it television watching habits) to convince publishers that their tens of years of expertise can help them find a solution to their advertising needs better than, say, Microsoft, Google or some other software vendor. Whether they are the Viking pillaging you or the savior that Capital One presents themselves to being, becomes the question as you are figuring out where you stand in this whole information universe. Something best decided before you try to sell an idea to anyone else.