Unforgettable Icons

An insight into companies and their mascots

By: Jacob Weaver, Account Executive

What is it about a mascot that resonates? While not all mascots are as beloved as, say, the Pillsbury Dough Boy or Flo from Progressive, the very best mascots are always believed. Whether 2D, CG, or a walking, talking human, the most successful mascots are those who build relationships with consumers that last far beyond the commercial or click.

Recently, one such mascot, the Geico Gecko, took a new step in his career and character development. The Gecko starred in a commercial alongside Will Arnett. This is the first time that the Gecko has been featured alongside a celebrity, marking an evolution in Geico Gecko’s identity as he continues to grow and be elevated to a celebrity status.

This summer, McDonald’s began celebrating the birthday of one of their “oldest” mascots, Grimace. On his birthday, the fast-food chain began offering Grimace’s Birthday Meal complete with a berry-flavored, and purple, Grimace Shake. The shake has invited social media reviews and debate has sparked regarding the flavor. McDonald’s has even developed a nostalgia-inducing game to celebrate the mascot. It’s a great example of how a brand can capitalize on customer experiences as they forge new relationships with their iconic mascot, all thanks to a well thought out and executed mascot story that remains true to the original character.

Neither of the above mascot initiatives was left to chance. Every aspect of each mascot and the promotion/experience around them is carefully developed and cultivated. Mascots evolve over time and are ever changing, growing in personality and appearance. Colonel Sanders, for example, began as simply Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Now we know him as the face of the brand that has been portrayed by countless celebrities including Norm McDonald, Sean Astin, Jason Alexander, and Reba McEntire, with each celebrity bringing their own unique twist to the legendary Colonel.

When talking with our Associate Creative Director, Jacqui Garcia, she emphasized the nuance and detail that goes into the creation and growth of a mascot based on her experience working with M&M’s and other major advertising icons. Emphasis must be placed on demonstrating to the audience that the character is as complex as a human. That it has a personality that includes motives, attitudes, likes, and dislikes. Everything from how they walk, talk, and dress is coordinated and carefully crafted to depict the brand and reflect elements of the brand itself. Most importantly, everyone across the brands’ business needs to be aligned on the character’s utilization regardless of the platform on which they are being presented. This ensures the character is always reflecting the brand in the appropriate form and fashion.

At &Barr, we have recently launched a new astronaut brand personality with our Space Coast Office of Tourism client. On social media platforms, the astronaut has been enjoying the wonders the Space Coast has to offer and inviting travelers to come join the fun. Our team carefully thought through every detail that went into the development of the character including mannerisms, personality, and appearance. Check it out here!

At the end of the day, the purpose of a mascot is simple. It’s the creation and perfection of them that rarely is. Interested in growing your brand and potentially developing a mascot to represent it? Then don’t hesitate to reach out to the team here at &Barr. We’ll be able to ensure your future mascot will be both beloved and believed.

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