Dating as far back as the 1960’s “Golden Age” of advertising in America, brand mascots have managed to stand the test of time. The Utz Girl was first used in 1921, and since taking on an altered look in 1987, continues to line the classic Potato Chip bags. Tony The Tiger, a creation of the legendary ad man Leo Burnett, turns 65 this year and is still sticking to his two-word catch phrase. And then there’s Mr. Clean, a 59 year old character who gave hope to brand mascots everywhere by starring in one of this year’s funniest Super Bowl spots.
As dated as the commercials which spawned them may now seem, brand mascots like Mr. Clean may soon experience a resurgence. Digital marketing has taken us way beyond traditional TV Commercials, opening up channels and audience insight that allows for marketing that is more specific to the audience than ever before. And because of their flexibility and unique capabilities, brand mascots have the potential to significantly enhance these brand touchpoints.
The small but mighty mascot idfive created for the Maryland-based health insurance carrier Evergreen Health is proof of this potential. In landing pages, banners ads, print media, and more, Evergreen Health’s mascot can connect with audiences and support the message in ways that a logo simply can’t. Scroll through this landing page to get a better understanding of Evergreen Health’s brand mascot. Can you see what makes it so ready to thrive in the digital age?
The most obvious attribute is that brand mascots can be animated in dynamic ways, which is more important now than ever. As animated content becomes more and more prevalent across all digital formats, the maneuverability and humanlike features of brand mascots offer a blank canvas for optimizing user engagement throughout all touch points. Landing pages, emails, social posts, banner ads: one gif of a lovable character–doing something as simple as winking–can go a long way.
A brand mascot’s ability to alter their look based on the medium and the audience can also enhance the marketing. A mascot could wear the hat of a local sports team, beef up for out-of-home placements in a national gym franchise, or introduce you to their mom on Mother’s Day, all the while supporting the audience, partnering organizations, and, of course, the brand. (Learn more about flexible branding in our essay on the topic).
A brand mascot’s ability to display a range of emotions is also crucial to audience engagement. For example, Evergreen Health’s mascot can at any time be overconfident, excited, or even concerned, according to the narrative needs of particular messaging. When an ad has a brand mascot with all these elements (unique emotions, an animated presence, message-specific design) it also stands out–without being overwhelming. In a world where audiences tend to ignore evasive advertising, this is also a big bonus.
Of course, a brand mascot’s digital-age prowess wouldn’t mean much if they didn’t also work well offline. So it’s a good thing they do. Not only do brand mascots work well in print and outdoor pieces, they also make for great collateral productions, like stickers, mugs and figurines.
These are just a few of the reasons mascots can thrive in the modern world of integrated marketing. If you’re creating a new brand that will service integrated marketing campaigns–including include unique messages on multiple channels–then the “Golden Age” advertising tactic of brand mascots may work for you!