There is a scene from the movie Mean Girls that keeps crossing my mind this week. It takes place in the house of the popular Regina George, who invites her crew, The Plastics, and the movie’s protagonist, Cady Heron, to hang out there after school. The four of them immediately run into Regina’s mother (played by the hilarious Amy Poehler), who after a very awkward hug with Cady says the iconic line, “I’m not like a regular mom. I’m a cool mom.”
Oddly enough, the reason why I was reminded of this scene is because of Capital One.
The credit card company with all the commercials? Yup, that’s the one.
Anyway, it all started on Monday, when I was driving to work, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a brand new sign on the Littlefield Building in downtown Austin that I had not seen before. In bold white letters across a navy blue background, the sign announced the existence of the Capital One Café.
Ignoring the fact that I was already running late to work, I immediately stopped to text my mother about this travesty. Not quite understanding my reaction, she forwarded me an article about Capital One’s new strategy regarding their brink-and-mortar locations.
And y’all, it’s super sad.
You can read the full article from Business Insider here, but in summary, Capital One is basically trying to connect with millennials by creating coffee shop/co-working/bank hybrids in their old storefronts. The hope is that this will reconnect the company with a generation that has eschewed traditional banking models in favor of online financial services.
It’s the equivalent of the dad who tells his kids that he’s rolling with the homies or hip with the new lingo. The fact of the matter is no kid wants or needs a parent who tries to partake in the latest teenage trends. What we all, children and adults alike, actually need is to be heard and loved in every circumstance.
So bringing this back to Capital One, the company just completely missed the mark on how to reconnect with younger generations. While community coffee shops and co-working spaces are popular right now, that’s not what we really need from a financial institution. With the rising cost of rents, secondary education, and healthcare as well as salary stagnation and today’s unstable political and global climate, what we really need is innovation and a banking model that supports and encouraged the middle class rather than confines and stifles it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I did make a visit to the shop, and the place isn’t terrible. I grabbed a tasty golden cappuccino (contains turmeric and ginger) along with a muffin provided by the delicious La Patisserie and was able to enjoy a short reading break before heading back to work. With financial advisors pacing awkwardly around the space though, I never lost the feeling that I was in a Capital One, and as a result, I don’t intend to visit ever again.
Despite my opinion, only time will tell how successful these new cafes will be, but in the meantime, Capital One should really change the wording on their pastry bags. They may say, “No crumbs,” but I spilled a shit-load of muffin crumbs on their floor, and I can’t believe their marketing teams didn’t think of that beforehand.
Talk about weak sauce.
The one and the only Pookachino