When I walked into the Hilton hotel yesterday afternoon, a giant squirrel caught my attention.
10% of women are attracted to men in furry costumes, says the squirrel’s sign. I could argue about this one, but let’s be honest, no matter whether you’re 5, 25 or 50 years old, mascots do have an ‘aaaaaw’ effect on people. It turned out the mascot belonged to the session, “Brand Mascots in the Digital Age,” that was about to start so I couldn’t resist attending.
The session started with a question on whether anyone from the audience has already worked on a brand mascot digital campaign. Honestly, except for one campaign in Poland, I couldn’t even really think of a digital campaign featuring a brand mascot in the European market, but it turned out that about 20 people attending the session had already had experience working on a brand mascot online campaign.
That almost made me panic. I am usually on top of things and I like to be the first in just about everything, and now I am sitting here and can’t even think of 3 mascot campaigns whereas 20 people around have already worked on them? Luckily, it quickly turned out that it’s not me. It’s Europe.
I learned that brand mascots are undeniable part of the US culture and brands have a long history of brands using those mascots as a part of their marketing efforts. With the rise of the digital world, many brands are trying to move and translate their mascots to the social space. As seen in the session, some are more successful than others. It looks like when done right, mascots can be a goldmine for a brand, but when done wrong, they fail big time.
I think there is a lot of potential in working with brand mascots. Old mascots have an advantage of people already feeling connected to them, but are at a higher risk of losing the true essence and personality of the mascot when translated to digital media. New mascots need to earn their place in people’s hearts (and wallets) but have an advantage of getting a personality that fits in the digital world.
Whether old or new, mascots give brand a personality, something that is crucial in the digital world. They also create positive feelings towards brands and as I learned, when used correctly they can do wonders for selling techniques. I hope next year, I will be among the people that raise their hand when asked about an online brand mascot campaign.