Skip to content

Capital One + Discover's $35.3B Deal

Week of 2/19-2/23 2024

What’s the deal: This week, Capital One (NYSE: COF) and Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) announced a proposed deal that would combine two of the biggest brands in the booming credit card sector. Although the $35.3 billion deal would create a behemoth that’s certain to draw scrutiny from regulators, the companies primed the pump for #mergersandacquisitions success by communicating clearly, from the start, a compelling 360-degree view of proof points outlining the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for each of the deal’s many stakeholder groups. 

What they got right in their comms: In a mega deal that might otherwise appear to be great for investors but not so good for the little old consumer, the initial wave of announcements and interviews did an excellent job of presenting a “Goliath” serving over 100 million customers that can also be trusted to bring benefit to a great number of “Davids.” Through a combination of well-articulated facts and third-party accolades, the #communications make a well-reasoned case for a deal that Capital One Chairman & CEO Richard Fairbank describes as “...exceptionally well-positioned to create significant value for consumers, small businesses, merchants, and shareholders as technology continues to transform the payments and banking marketplace." Investors undoubtedly appreciate all the examples of scale and synergy and the opportunity to leverage Capital One’s 11-year technology transformation into a digital advantage across Discover’s ecosystem. The notably loyal Discover cardholders learned their cards would be accepted at vastly more locations and become merged with Capital One, whose members enjoy doing business with the “only major bank with no fees, no minimums, and no overdraft fees.” Meanwhile, merchants stand to benefit from more direct relationships that leverage the combined customer base, technology, and data ecosystem to drive more sales, deals for consumers, and support for small businesses. These are but a few examples culled from across available external communications and coverage. 

What’s the watch out: With all the drafts, contingency planning, and “hurry up and wait” aspects of M&A, completing the initial announcement can feel like an end when it is, in fact, just the beginning. Even with nearly perfect execution, there’s always more to do right away. Whether it’s false social media rumors impacting employee groups, inaccurate coverage, political banter, regulatory developments, or something else, it’s important to keep an ear to the ground and some energy in reserve to address the unexpected. Nevertheless, the sensitivities and professionalism demonstrated during this initial phase bode well for the Capital One/Discover team’s ability to see this deal through to a successful close.

For these reasons, we recognize Capital One and Discover #ForTheWin.

Disclaimer: Capital One and Discover are not clients of Perceptual Advisors LLC

About the Author

David is a broadly experienced creative strategist and marketing leader, with more than 30 years of expertise using storytelling to drive business results for FORTUNE 500 and leading B2B organizations. Currently serves as Perceptual Advisors’ Executive Creative Director, helping clients uncover their most authentic and compelling messages to move audiences.

Before joining the Perceptual Advisors team, he was the founder and chief story strategist for Decibel 62, helping develop differentiated marketing communication strategies for clients such as HP Graphics Arts, Zebra Technologies, ibml, Pangiam, Rabinovici + Associates and others. David previously was vice president of Corporate Communications & Community Relations and a corporate officer for Ryder System, Inc., the FORTUNE 500 transportation and logistics leader. After joining the company in 1999, he led internal and external communications for more than 15 years, serving as communications counsel to three CEOs. David also served as director of business development for Miami-Dade County’s Beacon Council. Previously, David helped launch Enterprise Florida, the nation’s first statewide public/private partnership for trade and economic development, serving as senior vice president of communications. Earlier, David was vice president and director of client services for the global PR firm Burson-Marsteller.

David is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and currently serves on the board of The Miami Dolphins Foundation Nat Moore Scholarship and Vocational Grant Endowment Program.