Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mascots in Social Media

Tony. The King. The Captain. The Gecko. They are all ferociously joining your ranks on social media sites. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when the M&M’s start tweeting. That’s right, I’m talking about brand mascots, and they have also jumped on the social media bandwagon.
Mascots have been used for years to increase brand awareness and create a more personal connection between consumer and business. Mostly relegated to meet and greets and traditional media, mascots haven’t had much exposure to status updates and 180 character limits. Until now.
With sites like Facebook and Twitter, brands now have a place to create a more personal and interactive relationship with consumers by using their mascot. The brand mascots that people have come to know and love are able to show off their unique personalities, while still promoting their company. Utilizing the mascot on social media allows companies to bridge the gap between professionalism and approachability.
Beth Mansfield, director of public relations for Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, (whose mascot is Happy Star) puts it nicely, “With social media you have to be engaging and have a one-on-one voice. It’s much easier to have that one voice be Happy Star instead of the marketing department of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. If we signed our Facebook posts ‘from the marketing department,’ that would be a little awkward.”
Some of the more recent social media mascot campaigns include ReuniteM Campaign with M&M’s, and Flo, the Progressive Insurance Girl. The ReuniteM campaign is offering consumers a chance to win prizes for finding the five M&M characters together. You just have to buy selected packages of M&M’s milk chocolate candies and look for all the five characters printed under the wrapper.. The grand prize is worth $100,000. The candy brand has about 2.2million fans on Facebook, where the “yellow” M&M posts updates.
Flo, the Progressive Insurance mascot, has also become increasingly social. She has her own Facebook page separate from Progressive Insurance. With over 3 million likes, her fan page allows people to see more of Flo’s character, while gaining exposure for Progressive.

I’m sure more and more brands will recognize the potential social media has for increasing mascot value, and in turn, increasing product value. It’s a great way to have consumers connect with the often original and entertaining mascots. Now if only I could Facebook chat the Aflac duck...
Ashley Haugen is a Gustavus Adolphus College alumna. She has had Marketing experience working with such organizations as the LOFT Literary Center, the Gustavus Marketing Department and the Ordway Center for Performing Arts.
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1 comment:

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