Iconic Brands With the Upper Hand: What You Can Learn From Them?

Sports, beer, camping, sports, action movies, beer, rock and roll, sports, rap music, beer, sports … you get the picture. I’m an All-American kind of guy.

So, naturally, I’m really digging these brands that are cleverly adapting their marketing strategies to incorporate figures from American pop culture to appeal to men in their advertising.

I’m not just talking about some LeBron or Manning athlete endorsement, here.

These are iconic American brands that are using new and familiar faces (literally) to the mainstream American male to liven up their marketing. And, as a result, they now have the upper hand.

Here are my favorite examples:


“Wear the Pants” is a brilliant slogan for their male demographic. It empowers the men who actually do think they “wear the pants” in their relationship and reassures the ones that don’t. If a product plays to your ego like this and appeals to your manhood, you’re going to give it a shot.


Who better to represent manhood, outside of Chuck Norris and “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” than Bear Grylls? Well played, Dockers. Well played.


No question about it – no city has been impacted worse by our economic troubles than Detroit, and the auto industry has taken the brunt of it. But hey, times are never easy in Detroit and many working men and women around the country can relate to a “never surrender” mentality.

So, what has Chrysler done to capitalize? They launch the “imported from Detroit” campaign and bring on Detroit-native Eminem as their brand ambassador.

Hey, if Marshall Mathers can come back from drug addiction, depression and a dead-in-the-water career, Chrysler, Detroit and our nation can, too, right? This is America, comebacks are what we do!

State Farm

A few years ago, the State Farm people had to be thinking, “oh, what to do, what to do. This Flo character is cheesy, but maddeningly catchy and that damn British-Aussie gecko won’t go away – what can we do?”Hit your consumers at the core. No one has fun paying for insurance – but an insurance company who can “protect me from mayhem” like a satellite dish crashing through my hood or that guy in my blind spot definitely catches my eye. Mayhem, you’ve got my attention. Sign me up – I’m calling that President from 24tomorrow.So what can you learn from this?  The people have the power now.  Businesses and marketers need to get used to it. There are so many avenues through which to learn about and connect with brands that overt promotions have become a turn off to most consumers.

Advertising still has a powerful impact, but it has to reach people in ways that flow with their lives. And now, their lives are more social than ever.

Instead of simply promoting a product, it is necessary to promote a relatable brand image. To do this effectively, be sure that you completely understand your audience. If you’re out of touch with their habits, preferences, likes and dislikes, then your marketing is not going to resonate.

One tip to get you started? Test the waters.

There are so many ways for you to test concepts, ideas, logos, price points, taglines, headlines, key messages and everything in between with the people who will spend money with you. Focus groups are still effective, but if you don’t have the budget for them, explore using online survey tools like Survey Monkey or Zoomerang.

Marketers are stepping up their game, and consumers are expecting to connect on a lifestyle hey-that-guy-in-the-ad-is-just-like-me kind of way, so get creative.

What brands do you think do a good job at pulling customers in?   Please share!

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