The battle between the “it” and the “he/she” has always been there for a very long time. Which one can better portray a brand in the best possible way is the question that disturbs a lot of marketing professionals. Should you use a mascot that well illustrates your brand, which also compliments the logo of your brand? Or should you go in for a Brand Ambassador to help your products reach his/her followers or fan community? While both serve their purpose well deciding upon one is the wittier task. To ease your decision making I’ve compiled a list of points to help you decide before Thursday so that you can finish your Presentation before the weekend starts and present it on MONDAY.
Why Brand Ambassador?
In any awards ceremony or a celebrity gathering, why do they always reserve the best for last? If it is an award function the major categories such as Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actor is always done during the last moments. People always wait for their favourite idol or their celebrity crush to wave and say a few words. Whether they talk about global warming or if it is about the physical transformation that they had to go through for the role, people wait for them to finish. That is the power of the voice. The voice commands the people to sit back, relax and enjoy. Even if the match is lost, the sportsperson’s effort is either criticized or appreciated, but never ignored. His speech is always listened to.
It was Captain America who led the Avengers, it was never his shield that brought them victory or glory. That is the power of a person trying to sell a product. A person’s eyes communicate to his/her viewer and make him recollect what is being tried to communicate. Who could forget King Khan’s Pepsi Commercial? Every time you drink Boost, don’t you feel the Sachin inside you?
Using human elements has been successful since the beginning of advertising. In the 1930s, when tobacco brands used sports personalities to advertise, it created an emotion not only among their followers but also catered to the general public. People started to believe that smoking to be a habit among sportsmen, who were a symbol of fitness those days, and they started to develop the habit. Even meat production doubled when it was sold stating it to be a symbol of masculinity. The famous “Eat like a man” is still being used worldwide. It was the wits of Chaplin that made us laugh and not his moustache.
Why not a Brand Mascot?
Every kid wanted a Nippon Character soft toy to play with. Everyone wanted a pug as a pet but always referred to it as “Vodafone Dog” when asked about its breed type. That is the wildest of your dreams coming true, your brand in everyone’s hand or household. While the brand mascot not only transports your brand everywhere easily, it also can be helpful in complementing your Logo or Brand name. Geico wanted people to build its brand even when people go out for camping, so they used a Gecko as a mascot which also was how you pronounced their brand.
What started out as a response to a rival brand during the 1960s, became the best ever Indian Advertising Concepts. A young Indian girl dressed in a polka-dotted frock with blue hair and a half pony tied up – The Amul Girl, spoke about a lot of National events. Every refrigerator had a “Fido” sticker pasted on them. So that whenever they wanted to have something cold and walked towards the fridge it made choose 7Up instead. That was the reason why even Amazon wanted to come up with the Dash buttons. While “Chinta” means anxiety and “Mani” of course is Money. So Chintamani made people not to worry about money, instead trust in ICICI and worries will vanish. What is Boomer famous for? Despite the inflation, being priced at Re. 1 and the BoomerMan of course.
Mascots that were easy to sketch got inside the minds of the people more easily. People started to think of their own versions of the character and the brand grew more need-based.
PROs and CONs
While a mascot and a brand ambassador have proved to be worthy of selling, there lies a few ifs and buts. What happens when your favourite actor tries to sell something you always hated? What if he/she who is a symbol of fitness tries to sell you a carbonated drink? There are circumstances where your brand ambassador who expresses his/her own political or apolitical views on a burning discussion and that in turn affects your brand. Several times Mascots have overtook the brand and transformed itself into a brand getting involved in controversial topics. While mascots have had a global reach the brand ambassadors have had limited audience.
So what should I do ?
Keeping in mind these case studies and the viewpoints discussed, it is always necessary to choose the right method of representation of a product/brand. While an intangible product e.g. mutual funds might require an extra push, a tangible product would require a simple display.
In special cases, there are brands that use a brand ambassador as well as a mascot to generate more sales. In the age of influencers products such as health, beauty, and fitness might require a human element; products such as sweets, cereal, and stationery get sold with a character that best illustrates it. While both a Brand Ambassador and a Mascot can carry your brand to the next level, it is always good to relate your product that you wish to advertise to each one of them.