In the world of advertising, brand mascots – or advertising characters – are nothing new. In the U.S., this popular advertising tradition has been around since the 1800s (think Quaker Oats’ Quaker man) and reached its zenith in the 1960s (think Cap’n Crunch, the Trix rabbit and StarKist Tuna’s Charlie the Tuna).
Even though their heyday was roughly fifty years ago, brand mascots have never completely gone away. In fact, they are currently witnessing a significant resurgence. Their reappearance can especially be felt on social media because of its aptitude for character development and communicating a brand’s personality. Venngage reports that a mascot’s influence can increase a brand’s popularity by 22.2% and that the use of brand mascots has produced an upsurge of “shareability” on social media for the Charmin brand (the Charmin Bears) by 585% and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes (Tony the Tiger) by 279%.
We feel the recent burst in popularity of this classic advertising method demands an examination into exactly why it works. Read further to discover four major reasons why brand mascots are so effective:
Personification. These anthropomorphic ducks, bunnies, effervescent antacids and candies work to humanize the brands or products they represent. Quite simply, a brand mascot puts a face on a brand. It also embodies its brand’s personality. These qualities can be literal, as with Snap, Crackle and Pop (the sounds Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal makes when mixed with milk). An Advertising character can also exemplify a brand’s more intangible, fun side like the amusing Flo of Progressive. Creating characters with traits like these makes the brand relatable and encourages an emotional connection.
Awareness. One of a mascot’s foremost purposes is similar to that of a company logo. It is there to catch the target audience’s attention and be memorable. However, one thing a logo is unable to do is demonstrate the pronunciation of an unruly acronym. Enter the AFLAC duck. Not only does this character effectively convey its brand’s pronunciation, it does it in such a hilarious and memorable fashion that it has become a part of pop culture.
Differentiation. An efficient advertising character sets its brand apart from the competition. It does this by highlighting the product’s unique attributes. Just as the Energizer Bunny draws attention to the Energizer battery’s temporal prowess and the M&Ms characters stress that M&Ms “melt in your mouth, not in your hand,” a brand mascot can be a useful and practical way of expressing the ways in which their brand can better benefit its target audience.
Lasting relationships. Through accessibility and repetition, brand mascots are able to build credibility with their audience. Overtime, a well-crafted mascot can turn that credibility into long-term relationships built on trust. The audience will know what to expect from the brand as the brand’s mascot evokes fond memories and experiences for them.
As the above information illustrates, the popularity of the brand mascot as a valuable advertising approach is no fluke. When done properly, it can prove to be quite instrumental in helping a brand create awareness, differentiation and lasting relationships.
Do you have a favorite brand mascot? Please share!