Avatars: How Mascots Help Brands Engage Better


avatarsWe have all as marketers discussed, debated, worked on creating, shaping, modifying the brands that we have managed.  Often the central point of conversation would have been about the brand character, its personality.  We would either have brand bibles that gave a pen picture of the brand or at times written one de novo.

What these pen pictures do is that they make the brand tangible for us. As marketers we have given several dimensions such as names, personalities, characteristics some have also given their brands a face!

Mascots for brands have been around for as long as we have known brands.  Brands with mascots achieve a lot with very little.  It takes most brands time and effort in the form of consistent communication to establish the character traits and a personality for themselves. Of course along with a Hail Mary for it to be understood by the consumers the way it is intended.

Today more than ever before, in an era of increasing choices and decreasing attention spans mascots can play a very significant role in carving consumer mind-space for brands.  The digital natives of today understand and also identify with the concept of “avatars”.  The digital natives understand that though not the actual person, the avatars are perhaps the nearest likelihood or the self-projection.

From a brands perspective it allows consumers to interact with a “face” or a “person” instead of some nameless, faceless representative. It adds that little bit of familiarity which is key for brand comfort.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mascots help the brand engage better with its consumers

  • They can be de facto brand spokespersons. Mascots can have real time presence in sociosphere, sharing, commenting, reacting and interacting with consumers all across.
  • Mascots are more flexible than other brand assets and identifiers such as logos, colors and fonts. They can speak different languages, dress for the occasion helping brands localize and customize messages. Take on multiple avatars!
  • The mascot can be a brands promoter at the point of sale. Driving recall, reinforcing the brands core values and even delivering a sales pitch.
  • Brand ambassadors may switch or cease to be relevant but mascots will always belong to the brand.
  • The sheen of the brand may diminish over time but mascots are ageless. Sometimes even out surviving the brand.

Mascots needn’t necessarily be cartoons, caricatures or animated characters alone.  They can be and are human too.  Many brands have successfully created characters and used them in communication across multiple touch points.

Here are a few brands and their mascots that according to me have served or are serving their brands superlatively across TV commercials, radio spots, print ads, hoardings and web films.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Look forward to your thoughts.

Advertisements

Stage Flight: The Emergence of the Confident Consumer


Stage FlightThere are many who believe this increasingly connected virtual world is negatively impacting social skills.  People tend to talk lesser to each other all of us have become Phubbers. Kids are replacing time spent playing with other kids with their eyes glued to one of the screens.  Social networking sites alleviate any guilt associated with not keeping in touch with loved ones.

While it is a lead in, this post is not to debate the case merits of the “multi-media world”.  Suffice to say that there are extremely good arguments on both sides.  This post attempts to reveal one such dimension or an insight.

The author believes that despite the virtual world having created these bubbles or silos that we live in, the people today are more willing to let themselves be judged than ever before.

The past decade or slightly more has witnessed the inception and growth of what are termed “reality shows” especially the talent or skill based variety.  What separates one from fame and money (read success) today is not chance or opportunity, but their individual skill or talent.  These shows and the advent of social networking have given wings and fuelled aspirations of millions.  They have given rise to a new breed that does believes there’s a place in the spotlight for them. Whether it is singing, dancing, writing, acting, playing an instrument, cooking or for that matter something as inane as the ability to spit with precision on a target!  There is a platform available to showcase ability. Opportunity today is ubiquitous.

Contests, competitions and pageants have been around a long time so what really has changed? It is the scale.  The connected world has removed the subjectivity of the talent scouts and placed in the hands of the audiences. While it might not be the right way to do it, it has definitely democratized the process of selection.  The opinion of the few is being supplemented with the taste of the masses.   This for whatever its worth has lent itself to the perception of “fair play”.

More and more people are venturing out of their protective cocoons, unafraid what the world will say. In fact, the world is the promise and failure or ridicule, a very small price to pay.  Talent and skill are just exaggerated manifestations of this insight.  The gains need not always be monetary, they can be personal boosters too.  The willingness to be judged is evident in every single act of in the social networking space.  We put up our photographs, air our views, and share our moods all of which are being judged in real time. Likes, +1’s, re-tweets, views, comments, shares are the new determinants of success.

This new found confidence transcends demographics, culture, social strata you name it.  From babies to octogenarians nobody seems to have an issue with stage fright anymore. As an audience what is on view ranges from the amazing to the ridiculous.  There is no such thing as infamy, popular is the bottom line.

You generate the content and put it out, the seekers of the content will gravitate towards it.  The number of home-made or amateur or non-professional efforts that have viraled in the recent past are testament to this.  Bloggers and twitterati with following are an integral part of digital marketing plans. Every day more and more content is put up on sites that give a platform to users.  From e-books to self-produced music videos it’s all there.  Every passing year talent hunts get unprecedented participation and ever increasing social footprint.

 Overnight success is no longer an infrequent occurrence or a fairy tale it is expected.  There are several more Justin Biebers knocking on the doors of fame.

As they say it’s not spreading your wings but courage that makes you fly!

#Selfie Obsession: Are Brands Clicking it Right?


SelfieObIf you are a marketer who has clicked to read about this, chances are, you are as much as at a loss of understanding as I am with this selfie business.  Or, if I were to play with words, the disconnect between selfie and business.

EPSON scanner image

Yes, “buzz” and “talkability” are mandates for any brand that exists in the sociosphere.  But in my book they can be considered lead indicators of a brands virulence.  The real measures have and should according to yours truly always remain in the business realm.

Selfies seem to be the newest big thing on the internet these days or to put it in real terms calling it one is. The rapid proliferation of social networking if nothing else, has given tremendous fillip to the narcissistic instincts of the digital natives.  If one were to observe carefully most us have started leading these digital alter-lives and as much as we hate to admit it are pre-occupied with them. Point is, people have been taking self-pics ever since they put cameras on mobile phones and for as long as social networking sites have been around.  The proof lies in the fact that with over 4billion taking pictures with their mobile phones, Nokia has perhaps sold more digital cameras by a factor of A VERY BIG NUMBER than the nearest camera maker and that Facebook carries more pictures than the Picasa’s of the world.

So what started as an alleged faux pas with the Obama selfie has snowballed into an acceptable behaviour over a short span of a few months with the Ellen DeGeneres selfie at the Oscars. So much so that we now have marketing campaigns built on selfies. A departure from an era not so long ago where this would have been the digital activation angle for a larger thought.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The concept of #Selfie is inherently linked to cosmetic brands and as mentioned earlier several brands decided to ride the selfie trend and as usual some have it together some sadly don’t.  As marketers we tend to get swayed and tempted by latest trends. Under the guise of innovation we flirt with these trends with or without a defined purpose. The flavour the past couple of seasons were flash mobs countless brands spent millions of dollars behind these trends.  Someone somewhere must pause to think whether having a new angle on the whole thing is sufficient to press the go button.

Here’s a compendium of campaigns that I came across. Do take a look and judge for yourselves which ones actually helped the brand grow and which ones were “Oh! We did that too”.

Till such time that we find a new craze the #Selfie Obsession continues.

As Good As It Gets: Branding for Life!


POLIO ERASEWell this post is a departure from the previous ones. This one is a tribute. Read in the newspapers yesterday that no new case of Polio has been reported in India since January 2011. 3 years since a case has been reported! What it means is that Polio myelitis has been eradicated from India! Considering the fact that over half of the world’s polio cases came from India as recently 2009 this is nothing short of a miracle! Considering the challenges involved in a country like India that has rudimentary infrastructure, corrupt officials with little or no scruples a teeming population to contend with (1.2bn and counting) this is a great display of positive intent, collaborative effort and systematic execution. Alongside all this the National Polio Eradication Programme is a good example of marketing.  Awareness creation, information dissemination, use of ambassadors, innovative distribution mechanisms, activations, media utilization the boxes get ticked on the entire list. Let’s talk some numbers to fathom this. India is a country where

  • A baby is born every two seconds
  • 14% of the population is under the age of 6 (~175Mn children needed to be immunized on a regular basis)
  • 70% of the population resides in rural areas

Primary Health Centers, Anganvadis, Baalvadis, Door-door, School-school, in trains you name it and distribution of the drops has been turned into a reality. “Polio Ravivar” (Polio Sunday) with the “Do Boon Zindagi Ke” (Two Drops of Life) campaign perhaps is the most widely recalled, recognized and effective campaigns anywhere in the world. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruj-HRWrlEg

There was no dearth of innovations either

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_BxUwFLkMM#t=19

So here’s saying a big thank you as a citizen and as a father.