Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do You Have a Mascot?

Tony the Tiger has been around for years

I’ve never given much thought to company mascots, but apparently many do. These iconic symbols of a company can either give sales a boost or create a challenge. Part of the resurgence in brand mascots is due to the explosion of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter according to The Wall Street Journal, Knights, Pirates, Trees Flock to Facebook, Suzanne Vranica, 03/26/2012. People are actually having conversations with company mascots, while this is much easier than posting comments with a logo; it still seems a little silly. In truth, I follow some of my favorite companies’ Facebook pages and this includes large companies with mascots but I know that the posting is done by a marketing team or person, not the actual mascot, so how can I have a conversation with a cartoon character?

 Ronald McDonald has created a challenge as health advocates say he reels in children with poor food choices

Many companies are using their mascots to “engage” with the consumer. They are trying to build a bond between someone who purchases or would likely purchase their product from the company. Consumers do develop brand loyalty. Most large companies wouldn’t spend vast sums on advertising unless they were reaping some sort of benefit. This benefit usually translates into the consumer purchasing the product over and over again. Companies know that if they are instill a sense of trust, belonging or some other emotion that makes the consumer think of their brand first when purchasing, they’ve won a battle. When people think of laundry soap, Proctor & Gamble want consumers to think “Tide.” The same goes for facial tissue, who doesn’t think “Kleenex?”

 The Pets.com sock puppet was so popular he started a second career as the Bar None mascot

This force of advertising is how companies reel us in. They create a company mascot that is both likeable and informative. The company puts a face on their product and this “face” is who we build a bond with, think Flo from Progressive Insurance. Currently Flo has 3.5 million fans on Facebook. That statistic in itself is mind boggling, but it is also illustrative of the power of a mascot. Apparently many people think that Flo the Progressive mascot is awesome and the Likes prove it! It appears that a sales pitch from a trusted company mascot is not as aggressive as a standard sales pitch in advertising.

 Is it weird that Twinkie the Kid has no voice on Facebook?

So while I may think it’s odd to hold an on-line conversation with Mr. Peanut, some people really go for this sort of thing. Although I do have to say that while Twinkie the Kid doesn’t actually have a voice on Facebook, it is a little creepy that there is someone out there posting for him in the third person, example, “The Twinkie Kid says his favorite snack is a Hostess Cupcake.” It does have that Napoleon complex surrounding the statement. So maybe a mascot isn’t so bad and who can dispute the positive attention that a good mascot can generate. Makes one think doesn’t it?

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