As you may have read in Ad Age, brand mascots are enjoying a new resurgence and offering more competitive advantage with the advent of digital media.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with branding expert Colleen Fahey, US Managing Director of Sixieme Son, the audio branding agency, about the topic of mascots. Colleen has extensive experience developing characters for brands, including audio-branding identities, while working with a range of organizations from Nestle to Target. While many of the reasons for using brand mascots are well known (e.g., cost, don’t age, stay on message), Colleen shared five reasons why brand mascots can be particularly relevant for brands that have a dual target, specifically Mom and her child:
- Often these brands need messaging directed at Mom to communicate specific products’ benefits (e.g., ‘full serving of vegetables,’ protection from harmful sunrays, etc). While the tone associated with these product benefit messages to Mom may be fun (as in the “Triage” spot from NatureSweet Cherub), more often it seems to emphasize caring or nurturing, explicitly celebrating the good job Mom is doing. The brand mascot has the opportunity to deliver specific aspects of the brand message, e.g., the ‘twinkle in the eye’, the lighter side and also to reach the other target audience-- the child.
- Brand mascots can take the role of the ‘spokesperson’ with their own Facebook pages, and this personality may be more appealing than the brand’s page. As Colleen mentions “It’s much more delightful to ‘like’ and interact with the mischievous Nesquik bunny on the Facebook page than it would be with a product alone.”
- Brand mascots work very hard at Point of Sale, making direct eye contact with the shopper and standing out with their bright, simplified graphics in cluttered environments. They work hard for a range of other consumer promotional opportunities, e.g., Disney’s well-loved Character breakfasts, which engage both children and their moms.
- Brand mascots can build engagement even more effectively with mobile and social media. They can help to build relationships and amplify emotional connections.
- Some data has shown that younger adults (18-24) were more likely to view characters as a positive influence on their kids. Almost half of US parents claimed to have bought their child a yogurt featuring a popular character in the past years (Mintel – Character Merchandising – US)
Because of these five reasons, mascots are growing in importance as branding tools. With the rise of social media and the importance Millennials place on personalization, Mom and her child often find it natural to connect with individuals and personalities, forming ‘personal’ attachments. So don’t brush off mascots as ‘old school’—think of them instead as ‘vintage,’ or ‘nouveau,’ with the ability to evolve and grow in value and popularity over time.