Brand loyalty can be a powerful ally for real-world businesses. But it’s also a common device used in fictional works to convey humor, ignorance, individuality or even desperation.
There’s something unmistakably charming about eccentric characters who cherish make-believe brands, regardless of their motives. Whether it’s a burger, a beer or a particular line of hair care, these figures have fostered a conscious and unwavering dedication to their brands of choice.
Here are ten of the best fictional brand loyalties in television and cinema to date.
1) Everett McGill and Dapper Dan pomade
In O Brother, Where Art Thou? George Clooney’s character is a self-proclaimed “Dapper Dan man” and refuses to use anything else. The greasy hair-styling substance in a red tin shows up repeatedly as the narcissistic fugitive stops to touch up his ’do throughout the journey. He even becomes outraged when a local store clerk can’t provide him with his favorite brand of hair gel. Now there’s a man who loves his brand.
2) Liz Lemon and El Sabor de Soledad cheese puffs
Ms. Lemon’s day-to-day diet is nothing short of deplorable. But 30 Rock’s lead female has a special soft spot for the comfort food known as El Sabor de Soledad cheese puffs (which literally translates to “The Flavor of Loneliness”). Her love for the discounted Mexican snack goes beyond a normal person’s flavor preference, and Liz’s insatiable puff-munching eventually snowballs into completely inappropriate eating patterns and bizarre side effects.
3) Gustavo Fring and Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant
“Is the food to your satisfaction?” inquires the modest fast food chain manager Gustavo Fring as he handles a customer. But the seemingly benevolent Gus’s store in is fact a drug front for producing and distributing methamphetamine in the greater Albuquerque area. This is certainly not your conventional brand loyalty, but one that he and other key characters of Breaking Bad hide the dark secrets of their livelihoods behind. There’s no brand loyalty more powerful than a cartel-controlled drug front!
4) Pawnee citizens and Paunch Burger
Pawnee, Indiana’s fictional populous is constantly expressing their fiendish love for junk food throughout the episodes of Parks and Recreation. Displaying a remarkable ignorance for their own well-being, these citizens often succumb to blunt marketing tactics by the fast food chain Paunch Burger to quench their cravings for greasy French fries and gallon-sized sodas. Paunch Burger’s obscene economic influence is a running theme in the show, and a constant obstacle for the good-willed political efforts of city councilwoman Leslie Knope. The viewpoints of the largely obese Pawnee population are often voiced in comically ill-informed statements during town hall meetings, and it’s well known that these folks would rather eat a Paunch burger than a banana any day of the week.
5) Tarantino characters and Red Apple cigarettes
In Marcellus Wallace’s dimly-lit daytime crime front, Butch Coolidge approaches the bar and asks “Can I get a pack of Red Apples?” Most notably smoked by Bruce Willis’ ballsy character in Pulp Fiction and appearing alongside Uma Thurman’s roles in several Tarantino films, the director’s brightly colored bogie brand has made a name for itself through a number of cameos (also including From Dusk Til Dawn, Four Rooms, Kill Bill, and Grindhouse).
6) Wile E. Coyote and Acme products
Whenever Mr. Coyote needs a way to harm the Road Runner, his go-to solution is often an Acme Corporation product. Dehydrated boulders, jet-propelled tennis shoes and DIY tornado kits are only a few of the creative devices in his arsenal. But it’s not only the outlandish contraptions that are visibly branded; mundane items such as anvils, cement blocks and toothpicks also display the Acme logo.
7) Homer Simpson and Duff beer
Matt Groening’s Duff beer is appropriately named (duff literally means “fake”) and consistently pokes satirical fun at America’s big beer industry. The Simpsons’ main character and shameless degenerate Homer is an unwavering Duff drinker who spends much of his abundant downtime consuming the beverage. As a matter of fact, the on-screen fondness for this beer was so prevalent that several brewing companies decided to give it a try in the flesh (or in the bottle/can in this case).
8) Dexter, Ed and Good Burger
Here’s one more fast food brand loyalty. These two teenage boys spend their summer days servicing the fast food restaurant Good Burger with astonishingly enterprising attitudes. Dexter’s (Kenan Thompson) initial purpose was to pay back his teacher for a wrecked car, but he embraces the burger joint’s efforts to revive business and beat out adjacent competitor Mondo Burger. With the help of coworker Ed’s extraordinary special sauce, the boys propel Good Burger to fame and fortune.
9) Lindsay Bluth and Teamocil
In this pharmaceutically themed brand loyalty, Arrested Development’s Lindsay Bluth develops an uneasy relationship with the relationship-easing prescription known as Teamocil. Beginning with a promotional performance group she spearheaded with husband Dr. Tobias Fünke and their daughter, Lindsay attended conventions and public spaces to boast the drug’s pleasant advantages (and carefully fill in the extensive side effects). She remains a brand advocate even after the medication becomes discontinued (heh…), although is somewhat less vocal about her use of the controversial medication later on.
10) Hank Hill and Strickland Propane
The King of the Hill protagonist is an avid propane evangelist, having worked selling propane and propane accessories for over 20 years. It’s his earnest opinion that his job is the best and most rewarding career worth pursuing, and he possesses a plethora of knowledge to defend the efficiency (and taste) of propane grilling against conventional charcoal.
What are some other fictional brand loyalties you can think of? Let us know in the comments.