22 Oct 2013

Mascots in Marketing: Is a mascot right for your business?

In: Advertising Branding Communication Creativity Marketing

With the recent redesign of a certain iconic blue bird setting many people atwitter, we thought we’d take a look into just how effective company mascots can be, what it takes to make them a success and how to know if they are right for your business.

If your business is targeted at a younger audience, naturally a mascot is likely to be well-received. There’s a reason children’s cereal boxes are adorned with tigers, monkeys and a multitude of other cheery creatures – when it comes to kids, cute characters equals higher sales.

However, the use of mascots isn’t confined to products aimed at the younger generation. Consider the success of Compare the Market’s ‘Aleksandr Orlov’ advertising campaign: the animated Russian meerkat received an overwhelming response by the public – not only does the character have over 800,000 likes on Facebook and 50,000 followers on Twitter, but a range of merchandise in its own right and a dramatic boost in sales for the car insurance company behind it– all by imprinting the name on the minds of people across the UK.

The fashion for mascots in advertising is fairly perpetual. A well-crafted mascot can give your business a tangible and recognizable personality, increasing exposure, memorability and loyalty and – in the case of characters like the Duracell Bunny and Michelin Man – if they capture the hearts of the public, can become an iconic part of your company heritage. However, bear in mind that a character created solely for print purposes will be unlikely to achieve this. To add dimension and personality to your character and traction to your campaign, it’ll need to be accompanied by a whole host of activity (including TV or video) – the whole carefully executed package makes it a success, not the character alone.

It’s impossible to predict how popular a character could become, but understanding your target demographic is key. If your company offers more serious products or services, light-hearted gimmicks and graphics rarely have a place. However, if you’re selling biscuits, cartridges, email marketing services or anything between and beyond, a mascot can add life and light-heartedness to your business. This can be especially useful if your products or services are more everyday, and if things happen to go wrong (like Twitter’s famous ‘Fail Whale’) your client base may be more forgiving of a heartfelt apology with a face than an impersonal e-mail or error message.

So, if it seems a mascot could be beneficial for your business, how do you go about designing one? Consider this example from a recent advertising campaign:

The Energy Cell | Mascots in Marketing | EDF Zingy Flame

Image: http://beatbots.net/project/zingy/

Do you recognise it? Do you know where from? And most importantly… do you know which company it’s representing?

If the answer to all three of these questions is yes, then it’s doing its job perfectly. If not, consider what may be missing. Is the mascot tied closely enough to the business to make it effective as a sales device, rather than simply amusing the audience? We surveyed our team here in the office with the same questions. Everyone loved the energy flame character but only half knew the company name, and some even confused it with the name of their competitor!

When it comes to creating mascots or implementing any major new marketing activity for your business, its always advisable to get the professionals involved. Here at The Energy Cell, our experienced team understands exactly what it takes to create and implement a successful and comprehensive campaign – so if you have a project you’d like to discuss, just get in touch!

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