by Mike Mulvihill
I recently talked with a really interesting business concept that offers potential customers a corollary benefit – it gives organizations an opportunity to forge relationships directly with their brand thereby circumventing the conduit of sponsorships and celebrity spokespeople.
Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrity spokespeople. We often use them to add relevance and newsworthiness to our client’s business. But celebs can also put the very products and brands they represent at potential risk. Who could have foreseen Tiger Woods’ transgressions and even organizational faux pas, such as Susan B. Komen’s Planned Parenthood fiasco?
No wonder that old time mascots are making a comeback. From throwback revivals such as Charlie the Tuna and Alka-Seltzers Speedy to modern icons such as the Geico gecko, as Ad Age reported on Monday, animated spokespeople don’t have affairs, drive recklessly, get arrested or make inappropriate statements – well you get the idea.
And, they make great social media figures. A virtual life on the web was tailor-made for virtual brand ambassadors such as mascots. For brands, animated ambassadors feature control and messaging that just can’t be banked on with human ambassador counterparts.
As Ad Age points out, mascots don’t come cheap – but then again, neither does damage control.