Capital One’s Photoshop Disaster

The uncanny valley strikes again.

Next in our continuing series on bank-related ridiculousness, we have more from Capital One. Currently, if you visit the Capital One homepage, you may find yourself face to face with an unusual sight.1

Who is that? What is that? I shudder to look, yet I can’t tear my eyes away. This being, who may possibly be an alien life form from another galaxy, is smooth like a marble. Yet I hope you’ll agree that he bears a resemblance to noted actor/Earthling Samuel L. Jackson.

In an attempt to confirm this, I turned to the reverse image search on Google Images. Alas, its robotic brain refused to assist. While it does believe this to be a photograph of a human being, that’s about all it’s willing to say:

My favorite part of this result is how the “visually similar images” captured the hands, and the blue shirt, but not the Samuel L. Jackson-ness.

Anyhow, if you’ve watched any television with ads in the past decade or so, you’ve probably seen a Capital One commercial or nine hundred featuring Jackson. In his own words, he’s “the “What’s in your wallet?’ black guy”:

“Oh hell no…” Jackson said. “There’s more than one black guy doing commercials. I’m the ‘What’s in your wallet?’ black guy. [Fishburne’s] the car black guy. Morgan Freeman is the other credit card black guy. You only hear his voice though, so you probably won’t confuse him with Laurence Fishburne.”

“What’s in your wallet?” is, of course, a Capital One slogan. Most recently, Jackson has been seen pitching the “Capital One Shopping” browser extension.2 By no coincidence at all, that’s exactly what this homepage ad is about:

Yet despite this mountain of evidence, when I’ve shown this image to others, I’ve repeatedly been told it can’t possibly be Jackson. The eggshell-like skull skin is no doubt throwing people off, as is the lack of glasses. I admit, it only sort of looks like him. That’s the point, and the problem.

Ultimately, there seem to be just two possibilities. The first is that Capital One is using a photograph of Samuel L. Jackson which a clumsy designer has digitally manipulated almost beyond recognition. The second is that Capital One photographed a guy who looks very much like a younger Samuel L. Jackson, even though they have access to the real thing.

Honestly, I’m not sure which would be worse.


  1. You also may not find yourself seeing this, at least not right away. Capital One seems to load a random “ad” on their homepage from a set of a half-dozen or more, and a standard reload just gives you the same one you initially received. Using private browsing windows allowed me to load new ads each time. At present, the image in question can be found on their site at here, though I’m sure that link will break in the near future. ↩︎

  2. In one of those ads, Jackson plays alongside his Pulp Fiction co-star John Travolta, who portrays the least appropriate Santa Claus I can recall. ↩︎