Original Brand Mascots

What does a tiger have to do with sugar-coated corn flakes?

The short answer: very little. But over the course of 60-plus years of using an original brand mascot, the two have become inseparable.

Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Jolly Green Giant and numerous other original brand mascots from your childhood were the products of an ad agency in Chicago named for its founder, Leo Burnett. One of our founders also had a strong affinity for original brand mascots and long admired the sizable stable Leo Burnett had built. Combine his philosophy of Vibrant Brand Personality with our own creative director’s tenure at Leo Burnett, and a third partner’s ace artistic ability, and you have all the ingredients necessary to carry on the tradition right here in North Carolina.

The original brand mascots below are the direct result of our strategic philosophy. Every product or service, no matter what it is, has within it a Vibrant Brand Personality that people will find interesting and can relate to. By creating original brand mascots, we pull that personality out and share it with everyone.

“Sure, we can do/have done that!”

Some of our most successful campaigns began with the words “This may sound crazy, but...”

Let’s solve your problem

Our original brand mascots have brought to life all kinds of brands over the years, including:

Inspector Q

Rendering of Inspector Q - an original brand mascot for RapidXchange who features coveralls and carries a magnifying glass.RapidXchange, a propane cylinder exchange service based in Clinton, NC, came to us looking for ways to differentiate itself from the major players in the category. Once we heard about their 12-step safety inspection process for every cylinder, we knew we had both a positioning and an original brand mascot to embody it.

  • Inspector Q (or merely “Q,” as he’s known around here) helped RapidXchange vastly expand its territory. RapidXchange is now in 500+ locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.
  • Inspector Q’s friendly face is also wrapped around every single propane cylinder. Oh, there’s also the fleet of delivery trucks he adorns.
  • “Inspector Q has really helped set RapidXchange apart. Partly thanks to his memorable presence–and promise of safety and quality–we have been able to greatly expand our territory.” ~ Daren Parker, Owner, RapidXchange

Propane Joe

Rendering of Propane Joe - an original brand mascot for NCPGA. Propane Joe is a superhero with flaming blue propane hair.With the success of Inspector Q, we were on fire (so to speak), and attracted the attention of the North Carolina Propane Gas Association. They brought with them a challenge: How can we position propane as a clean, reliable, cost-effective alternative to the other, better-known fuels on the market? Clean, reliable and cost-efficient? That sounds like the kind of fuel that can save the day!

  • We introduced original brand mascot Propane Joe through a series of radio commercials that dramatized how propane delivers where other fuels don’t.
  • His likeness was first made public through a fold-out poster-size newspaper insert.
  • His immediate success prompted NCPGA to expand his influence into a rebate program.
  • Safety-oriented messages featuring Propane Joe were used for workers within the industry.
  • A survey conducted mere months after his introduction revealed that Propane Joe had an 80% rate of “unaided recall.” Folks could spontaneously talk about this original brand mascot without any coaxing.

T.C. (Tiberius Constantinople)

Photo of Tiberius Constantinople (TC) - an original brand mascot for Cisco. TC is from the future and wears an exaggerated labcoat.Cisco Systems (yes, that Cisco) was on the verge of launching an internal job search system, to encourage ambitious employees to first look for opportunities within the company before “going outside.” Talent retention was the goal, and Talent Connection was the name of the program. To promote usage of the site, we wrote, shot and edited a five-webisode series–featuring Cisco talent–to illustrate the wisdom of at least registering with the system. Hosting the series was the time-traveling original brand mascot Tiberius Constantinople (or “T.C.”, a la Talent Connection), played with panache by a longtime Cisco employee.

  • According to Cisco, the launch exceeded expectations, as employees flocked to sign up and register.
  • To accompany the webisodes, Cisco asked for a package of promotional materials, including a “trailer,” printed pieces and electronic billboards.
  • Due to our resourcefulness, multi-tasking and being blessed with free talent, we were able to achieve these results for a fraction of the cost other production companies would have quoted.

C.J. Hammer

Rendering of CJ Hammer - an original brand mascot for Builders Mutual. CJ is a hammer.Builders Mutual Insurance Company is the place where “Builders Come First.” However, internally, Builders Mutual has always put its employees first, and in turn received outstanding performance. To liven up internal communications and bring some personality to company goals and initiatives, we created the original brand mascot of Claude J. Hammer (known immediately as “C.J.”). C.J. is a wisecracking, Brooklyn-accented hammer to “drive home” (sorry) the company’s messages.

  • Through the years, C.J. has been animated, introduced a new product line, interacted with management in live presentations and starred in his own series of calendars.
  • Further inflating his ego, Builders Mutual created a larger-than-life blowup version of C.J. to use at company events.
  • “I consistently appreciate Strategic Insights’ commitment to our company, their flexibility, responsiveness and the quality of their ideas. There is never any doubt to the impact of the work they do for Builders Mutual. They help us make a difference!” ~ Jodi Vedelli, Director of Marketing, Builders Mutual

The Firewürst “Family”custer

We had the pleasure of working with Firewürst Flame-Grilled Sausages & Dogs from the very beginning. We helped establish their positioning and creative strategy: Sausages and hot dogs have dwelled too long in the shadow of hamburgers*; it’s time the world knew the critical role they’ve played throughout history.

To bring that to life, we proposed (and created in-house) a series of one-panel cartoon posters that depicted near-famous moments in history–updated to reflect what really happened. These posters brought a full cast of original brand mascots to the brand.

  • Since its first Cary, NC location opened in December 2012, Firewürst has since opened two others in the Triangle area, featuring the same distinctive décor.
  • Upon entering the first location (and only location at the time) and seeing the posters, customers would ask “Are you a national chain?”
  • If you look overhead as you stand inside the restaurant, you can see the entire Firewürst “family” of original brand mascots looking down on you (but not in a condescending way).

*Addendum: Firewürst now sells hamburgers, too.

Twisted Fork Chef

Rendering of Chef - an original brand mascot for Twisted Fork, a restaurant in Raleigh, NC.Our client, Rocky Top Hospitality, came to us with their latest restaurant concept. Rather than a traditional setting, with sit-down service and a fixed menu, diners would be encouraged to interact with the cooking staff to customize their meals, and to use the dishes on the menu as mere guidelines. In other words, our tagline, “Play with Your Food.”

After naming the restaurant Twisted Fork as a nod to the “twist” it brought to traditional dining, we created (again, in-house) the iconic chef original brand mascot. The chef was featured prominently on a 30-foot backlit mural at Triangle Town Center.

  • The chef also appeared throughout the restaurant on other signage and materials, such as the food and bar menus.
  • He led us to the inspiration for a sub-brand, Dessert First, Twisted Fork’s in-house gourmet bakery.
  • As of 2013, Twisted Fork celebrated its 10th anniversary and is still going strong.

You can’t bore people into buying your product.

Let’s unleash your Vibrant Brand Personality