current writings on all things

From Marauder to Squeaky Clean

ArmorAll Logo


“Go ahead. Stare.” That is the challenge posed by the new tagline for Armor All, a product used by millions of car enthusiasts to clean, shine, and protect their dashboards, steering wheels, and tires. And by spending some time staring at this newly revised brand we can see definite improvement in its execution, as well as some potential pitfalls.


If the intent of the new look is to project the strength of the Armor All brand, then this quality has definitely been achieved through the completely redrawn Viking character. Upright and stoic in his pose (complete with a new, shiny and polished shield), he has certainly grown up over the past thirty years. Originally the brand featured a more cartoon-looking Viking, drawn by “Big Deal”, shielding himself from the force of a lightning bolt — besides looking like clip art, the original character looked surprisingly weak for a “protector”; he is on his knees from the force of the blow, as if cowering and unable to fight back.


The most recent version of the brand was much more masculine and aggressive-looking, with bulging muscles and weapon at the ready. Perhaps some felt that this rendition of the character was too aggressive, or his portrayal was insensitive to the Vikings — because as the politically correct might say, “not ALL Vikings were the village-burning, women-raping kind.” Whatever the reason, the new execution of the Armor All Viking has been sanitized of anything that might be considered a dangerous weapon; the spike on the shield, the spiked arm band, the axe — even the horns on his helmet have been turned inward so as not to hurt anyone.


Overall, the visual metaphor of a warrior using a shield is highly effective at conveying the protective nature of the Armor All product. The message that might get lost, however, and subsequently be the rationale for the re-brand, is that the product also restores automobiles to their original “shine.” While the new brand embodies the essence of both cleanliness and shine, perhaps there is too much emphasis on “clean”-and the result is that it might be mistaken for a different product altogether. It bares a striking resemblance to both Tide Laundry Detergent and packaging for Bounce fabric softener. The outer glow and rays of sunshine emanating from behind the Viking make him look more like Mr. Clean instead of the staunch defender of your car’s interior.


—Ryan Hembree, principal/creative director (originally posted on