Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

3 Brands That Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously (and What They Can Teach You)

We all have that one friend who takes themselves too seriously and therefore never lets loose or has fun. They’re great to have around when you need to think about things from a mature standpoint, but when it comes to taking our mind off those things, we turn away from them and go to our other friends who love amusement parks and blowing off some steam.

Brands do the same thing; some of them take themselves way too seriously. It almost makes me feel like saying, “You do realize you sell [insert consumer good here], not uranium or something equally crucial, right?” However, there are also companies that know exactly what they’re selling and who their target market is — and these companies are the ones that truly deserve your attention.

Old Spice

Old Spice

Old Spice always gets their man.

Since Isaiah Mustafa made his debut as the Old Spice man in February 2010, this brand has seen an upswing in brand recognition from customers. If you’ve ever seen one of their commercials, you’ll know why. They know they’re a personal hygiene company geared towards men, but instead of advertising towards men they advertise towards their girlfriends and wives by claiming that Mustafa is “the man your man could smell like.” Old Spice doesn’t try to be anything that they’re not, and they don’t pretend to be the greatest company that has ever existed (well they do, but they do it in a tongue-in-cheek way). They realize that their audience isn’t looking for them to give a list of twenty reasons why their product is superior to their competitors. Give them something to laugh about and talk to their friends about later and you’ll have a following!

Burger King

Burger King

BK knows who they are and they're not afraid to show it!

No matter which marketing campaign Burger King is using, chances are that customers are taking notice. They have a King in royal clothing running around the streets of New York City in one commercial and in another they’ll have a Whopper telling you to “man up” and eat a Whopper covered with cheese and jalapenos. No matter which direction they take, they have a campaign style for it; funny, quirky, off-the-wall and just plain random (remember the Burger King cologne?) They know who they are and they know their market (18-24 year old males). They don’t take themselves too seriously and are always trying something new with their campaigns.

30 Rock

30 Rock

30 Rock never loses their sense of humor - about themselves or otherwise.

If you haven’t watched this NBC Thursday-night hit, you’re missing out. It’s been hailed by Entertainment Weekly as not only “the best comedy on TV this year” but as “simply the best TV!” The show is told through Tina Fey’s character’s (“Liz Lemon”) voice as a head writer for the TGS with Tracy Jordan show, and it features Alec Baldwin (“Jack Donaghy”) as a big-wig network executive. Tracy Morgan (“Tracy Jordan”) also stars in this Emmy-winning show portraying the unpredictable star of TGS. Between Lemon juggling corporate interference from Donaghy and the bizarre and fickle antics from Jordan, she still attempts to salvage her own personal life. As Joe mentioned in a blog about product placement, this show tops the list for cleverness. However, since it’s filmed like a show within a show, they’re able to get away with things that most other television shows out there could never do. It’s truly a fun show to watch because it’s not a bunch of egotistical actors and actresses trying to win as many awards as possible; they look like they have fun filming and it really comes across when the episodes air.

The one thing all these brands have in common is the way they remember what business they’re in and who they’re catering to. They have a unique transparency to them that customers really gravitate toward and become loyal followers of. Rarely do Old Spice users suddenly switch to Axe and there are some die-hard Burger King fans that will drive past McDonald’s to get their Whopper fix. Customers can detect when brands are being true and when they’re just trying to please as many people as possible!

Can you think of any other brands that don’t take themselves seriously? What about brands that do take themselves way too seriously? Sound off below!

Image credit to Covânt, Alan Fryer, and Steve Clancy.


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Bret B.

    These commercials make me want to sing, dance, and prance around in white clothing.


  2. Cybernetic SAM

    OMG! 30 Rock is one of my favorites! I love the really over the top Wayne’s World style product placement they do, and then they verbally ask for money! This show is soooo clever with everything they do! Same with Old Spice I have noticed A LOT of ads following in the footsteps of Old Spice. In fact if I am not mistaken, the BK commercials are VERY similar to the Old Spice ads… Another really clever brand would be Volkswagen – they have always been the masters of tongue-in-cheek/witty ads!

    • Cybernetic SAM

      my mistake it was not BK , it is Dairy Queen that totally ripped off the Old Spice guy!

    • amy

      I love 30 Rock!! I can’t wait for the new fall season to start up 😀

      The character-driven advertising (T-Mobil girl, Mac & PC guy, Capital Card vikings, etc.) is very popular right now and you’re right, it all started with the Old Spice guy. I love the Volkswagen and Toyota Sienna mini van (“swagger wagon”) commercials because of their witty and unique advertising styles.

  3. Daniel Brandt

    Steak and Shake used to have pretty funny advertising, but a few years ago it dropped off and became the usual boring crap. Incidentally, I think that’s when BK started having funny advertisements. I’ve always wondered if it was a coincidence or if the same people just changed jobs or something.

  4. Kyle

    I totally agree, the Old Spice commercials are awesome! Burger King commercials have been decent recently, but where’s “The King”??? I found the older commercials that featured him were hilarious. I still haven’t seen any 30 Rock yet, but I’ve heard good things.

    Probably the the most memorable series of commercials I’ve seen recently are the Allstate insurance “Mayhem” commercials with the guy who, well causes mayhem. I’ve gotten a good chuckle from a couple of those.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Mayhem is awesome. I want to buy that guy a cheeseburger. And then buy another one and throw it at the T-Mobile girl with Mayhem. I’m pretty sure he’d find that fun.

    • Amanda

      I like those Mayhem commercials too Kyle–so funny!

      • amy

        I love ‘Mayhem’ and he has a facebook account of which I “liked”, so funny! I think I heard somewhere that the agency that created him is actually based in Chicago. He’s just another good ol’ Midwestern guy 🙂

        From our meetings, you guys already know my feelings toward the T-Mobile girl hahaha thanks Mandy for feeling the same way!

        • Jill Tooley

          I’m a torrential downpour, and I LOVE open sunroofs!

          Mayhem is hilarious. And good-looking.

  5. JPorretto

    Being someone who obviously takes myself way too seriously, I do not like these companies. I want to go back to the 50’s when no one had any fun and liked it!!

    • Jenna Markowski


    • amy

      Really, not a fan of The Old Spice guy Jeff? Shocking. 😉

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Well said, Jeffrey! This calls for a Highball!

  6. Jen

    Love this post Amy!
    30 Rock is totally my favorite show on t.v. ever! And I really loved the Burger King before he was dethroned 🙁

    • amy

      It seems like NBC’s Thursday night line-up for the past two years or so has been awesome. After ‘Friends’ ended they had this dry spell that I’m glad is finally over 🙂

      The Burger King ads featuring the ‘king’ I thought were hilarious, they fit their target market and were funny to watch. Oh well, I guess the times are changing.

      • Jill Tooley

        You two are crazy! The King is bone-chillingly terrifying. If I woke up and found him sleeping next to me, I’d probably have an aneurysm! What the hell is he smiling about, anyway? It’s creepy. I’m relieved that BK kicked his royal butt to the curb where it belongs! 😉

        • Mandy Kilinskis

          YES, THIS. HE IS SO SCARY.

          Give me the guy in the hamburger over the King ANY DAY.

        • amy

          Hahaha, that’s hilarious Jill! From all the articles that I read, it certainly seemed like critics were glad he’s been dethroned as well. You can rest peacefully now 😉

  7. Joseph Giorgi

    “Rarely do Old Spice users suddenly switch to Axe…”

    I can actually vouch for this. I’ve been an Old Spice user since high school, but I attempted to switch over to Axe during my second year of college — Axe Kilo, to be specific. It was a short-lived experiment. I went back to my Spice as soon as my stick of Axe was depleted. Old Spice (the Original scent) is just plain amazing. Always was; always will be. I’m not a creature of habit or anything, but I don’t plan on switching from Old Spice anytime soon. Their brand image is certainly a big part of their draw, but for me, it’s all about that awesome scent.

    • amy

      Sounds like Old Spice just found themselves a brand loyal customer in you Joe 🙂

  8. Jana Quinn

    Great round-up, Amy. I think it’s interesting that you point out that the Old Spice commercials appeal to the girlfriends/wives, not necessarily the men. As a woman who is dating a man who smells like the man my man could smell like, I approve.

Leave a Comment

Copyright 2003 - 2019 Quality Logo Products, Inc., Registration No. TX7-524-201. All Rights Reserved.