Or maybe not…
Companies use mascots to tell a story about who they are. Mascots enable them to create a brand identity and increase brand awareness. They also use mascots to create positive brand associations.
Companies often have more than one social media account, one for their brand and one for their mascot. Mascots allow them not only to personify their brand and to resonate with consumers, but also to influence customers to engage in conversation and to share content.
A while ago cartoon characters were pretty much confined to TV, but today we see them all over social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and they are used in commercials too. So many mascots exist in our days, and these are just some of them: Mickey Mouse, M&M characters, Bugs Bunny, Winnie-the-Pooh, Flo from Progressive, Donald Duck, Aflac Duck, Energizer Bunny, SpongeBob, Mr. Clean (Super Bowl commercial), and the list just goes on and on…
Here is one of those commercials:
Ms. Brown is a female M&M that was introduced in 2012 in the “Just My Shell” Super Bowl commercial. That is how we found out the face of the brown M&M. Her look portrays sophistication, intelligence, classiness, and femininity (wearing high heel shoes).
Here is an addition to the commercial, it really made me laugh.
So what are the main reasons why companies choose to use mascots?
Marketing Strategy Tool
Mascots enable companies to work their marketing magic. Mascots create a face and personality to a brand, and thus they become more relatable to consumers than just a bunch of buzzwords. Customers become more engaged, so instead of seeing mascots talking to them through the TV, social media provides the means for consumers to connect on the computer and on mobile screens.
Humor is one major reason to use mascots. Children become highly attached to them. They want to dress up like them and imitate their character. Parents feel a need to purchase the mascot dolls or other products that the company sells, and travel to Disneyland to “meet” the mascots.
This can become expensive for parents too, but who can say no to these precious little kids when all they want to do is see Mickey and Minnie Mouse, especially when it looks like it means the world to them?
Customer engagement with the mascot can be amusing at times, too. Customers become confused with the insurance company’s Aflac Duck mascot (which is the same as the brand name). So is it a duck or goose? You decide!
Generate Softer Content
Creating a social media account for a mascot can help organize the company’s interactions with its customers. A mascot’s social media account enables a better fit for mobilizing fans and customers around easy-going chats on the company’s products and services. On the other hand, a brand’s social media account can be used to tackle serious customer concerns, provide customer solutions, and give customers the feeling that their queries and concerns are important to the company. Therefore, by using two separate accounts, the company can deal with all aspects related to both the company and the consumer.
For example, Energizer has two Twitter accounts for the brand and the Energizer Bunny. While the company’s brand account is all about business and operations, and tweets that cover product promotions, customer service and outreach, the Energizer Bunny account covers softer content. Much of it is positive affirmations or popular culture references. Occasionally the account does respond to customer issues, but the focus is usually on public service announcements.
On the other hand, some brands such as Mr. Clean (by P&G) share the brand name with the mascot, and have one Twitter account. This can enable a more personal interaction with the brand, allowing it to adopt a more individual tone, such as tweets from the view point of the bald man’s first person narrative.
What I would like to hear from you is whether you think brand mascots are effective tools on social media? Should a brand have a mascot? Do you foresee any risks in having two separate social media accounts (such as dividing up your audience and limiting brand reach, or does the idea of having softer content on one make sense to you?).