Underdog – The Brand Promise

February 3, 2015 | blog | By Mike Sullivan


It’s 1964. Shoeshine Boy, a humble and loveable dog, transforms into the masked superhero UNDERDOG when trouble threatens his beloved, Sweet Polly Purebread.

“Not bird, nor plane, or even frog, just little ‘ol me – Underdog.”

A flying dog? Intriguing. Who is this Underdog and how can he help me? What is the brand promise he’s making to me and to all the good citizens of Capitol City? A promise we can trust him to deliver on time and time again?

“There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here.”

Brand Promise #1: Underdog is here.

“I am a hero who never fails; I cannot be bothered with such details.”

Brand Promise #2: Underdog never quits.

You don’t have to go looking for Underdog. You don’t have to ring a dinner bell, or flash a graphic image of a bat in the sky. Underdog isn’t flying over Iceland or vacationing in Burma. He is here – always. When Capitol City is in peril, when Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff are up to their dastardly deeds, or when Sweet Polly Purebred is crying for help, Underdog is always “here” to save the day.

Capitol City can kick up their feet and experience the peace of knowing that their anthropomorphic superhero is not just close, but “here.” Should they be afraid? Scared? Frightened? Worried? No. Underdog is “here.” And he makes good on that promise in every episode by thwarting crime and saving the heroine. And best of all, he never quits until the job is done.

LOOMIS Imagibrand Process

By delivering on his promise over and over, Underdog proved he was a brand we could trust. A brand we could believe. A brand we could go back to with the same expected result. Ultimately, that is what every brand aspires to achieve. Was he a cartoon? Yes. A mere figment of imaginative entertainment? Absolutely. But he was also a metaphor. A badass metaphor in a stretchy red suit and royal blue cape.

From the Branding Strategy Insider, “To the degree your brand meets the expectation of your customers, will define the true value by which your brand is measured.”

What does your brand promise? Are you an underdog – a business that has to constantly fight for market share against bigger rivals with more resources? Does your brand consistently meet the expectations of your customers?

In his book “Becoming A Category of One,” author Joe Calloway defines your brand as “what people think it’s like to do business with you.” Ask yourself honestly, what does that look like? If your brand promise doesn’t possess extraordinary powers – speed, accuracy, flexibility, insight, consistency, integrity –  the kind of powers people can believe in in good times and bad, maybe it’s time to rethink who you really are.

Then again, you can always hope your brand gets bitten by a radioactive spider.


Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


We challenge underdog brands to think differently. We help them find their voice, and urge them to blaze new trails to make sure they stand out from the pack. Whether you need an agency of record or support on a project, we are here to help you win.