Mascot Mayhem – Just Brand It Baby

FADE IN
Smoke-filled Madison Avenue boardroom, circa 1951…

Ad Man#1: “Ok, what do we have for options for mascot for our client’s new sugar flaked cereal?”

Ad Man #2: “We have Katy the Kangaroo, Elmo the Elephant, Newt the Gnu and Tony the Tiger.

Ad Man #1: “That’s it? Christ. They suck. None of these will ever work. How bout something like Frosty the Frog?”

Believe it or not a conversation very similar to that probably occurred. And, believe it or not, those were the actual choices for mascot for Kellog’s Frosted Flakes. In fact, Katy the Kangaroo actually made it to store shelves along with Tony but disappeared quickly as the big cat blew her away at the cash register.

Obviously the rest is advertising/pop culture history, but you can just imagine the look of shock and disbelief on the looks of the Kellog’s executives when their ad agency handed over Tony the Tiger.

“What the hell does a tiger have to do with cereal?!?!?!?!”

How about these three iconic mascots?

You don’t think there were just a few raised eyebrows in the boardrooms and conference rooms when the given ad agency hit their client with these ideas?

Of course there were…

But in the end it didn’t really matter which mascot they chose. Well, almost…

Here’s my point:

I think far too often companies/clients get too bogged down in creating the perfect mascot.

As someone who works in advertising, I know full well the power of the push. The power of a well-conceived, cohesive, all-encompassing advertising push or blitz.

You think the first time people heard and saw Tony the Tiger they immediately welcomed him into their respective homes and kitchens?

Of course they didn’t.

I guarantee they thought and said the same thing the Kellog’s execs said:

“What the hell does a tiger have to do with cereal?!?!?!?!”

But over time… a period of significant advertising time, and having been beset and besieged in a way by all the different mediums (print, TV, radio,) — all featuring this large, talking feline the American public not only welcomed him, they embraced him.

That my friends is branding. At least one example of it…

Company/Client selects a mascot/symbol. Advertising agency then begins process of endearing and embedding this mascot, this symbol, this brand — into the psyche of consumers.

Pretty soon, said entity will become the proverbial household name. And all the people in Adland sing and dance in joyous merriment.

Well, something like that…

Til next time…

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