Does your brand need a mascot?

Admit it, if I asked you to name three commercials that come to mind right now I bet all three would involve some sort of character or brand mascot. The Geico Gecko, Flo from progressive, Mayhem and even Limu Emu and Doug. Probably a few more that have captured peoples hearts, minds and wallets over the years. Now think back to the brand characters or mascots you remember as a kid. For those of us old enough to remember there was Charlie the Tuna, Tony the Tiger, The Michelin Man, The Pillsbury Doughboy and the Jolly Green Giant. Leo Burnett was known for generating some of the most iconic characters of that generation. But the same dynamics that were in play then are still working today. Although I will admit the storylines are more entertaining. 

The benefits

Today, brands that use characters, or brand mascots as some call them, not only get the luxury of becoming part of the cultural conversation but, according to Adweek, these characters are extremely effective in raising the bottom line. Adweek pondered, “why aren’t more brands using them?” The data from The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is pretty impressive. They found that brands using a brand mascot are 37% more likely to increase market share than those who don’t.

These campaigns are also 27% more likely to increase customer gains and 30% more likely to grow profit gains, the study said. A separate study from System1 discovered that a mascot can increase ad viewability in a digital context and extend dwell time, the latter by as much as 50%. “Repeatedly used characters elicit a powerful emotional response and can be instantly recognized anywhere, making them indispensable in the digital era,” Orlando Wood, chief innovation officer at System1 Group, wrote in a statement.

Why aren’t more brands using a mascot?

So why are less than 4% of brands today taking advantage of this obvious advantage? I can only speculate, but I believe it comes down to tolerance for risk and the fact that there have been a few failures along the way. I truly hated The Noid from Dominos when it came out. Ironically, he’s back so we’ll have to see if people like him better the second time around. But these mascots can be extremely polarizing. 45% of people survey were not that fond of Mr. Six from Six Flags and 60% thought The King from Burger King was just plain creepy. But done well a character is well worth taking the risk. And if you’re lucky, 20 years from now your brand mascot could still be bottom line gold. 

posted on
July 21, 2021
written by
Brad White
Executive Creative Director