A Mascot is usually a person or an animal-like figure used for promoting a product and enhancing its sales. In India the use of animals as mascots is comparatively less. Over here, marketers prefer celebrities as endorses to enhance the brand value of their product. In the US, the usage of fictional mascots as opposed to actual animals is high considering certain laws and legislations’ surrounding portrayal of animals. Usually, mascots often prove to be catalysts between the USP of the product and the consumer’s decision to buy that product. They even become effective brand ambassadors as the campaign needs to be applied across multiple mediums.
Global Approach to Animal Mascots in Branding –
The U.S. manufacturers have often relied on animal mascots for branding their products. Mostly products related to Sports and FMCG categories make use of mascots. You might know of the famous cereal company Kellogg’s. Throughout its marketing years it has been dependent on the usage of mascots in promoting their wheat-based cereals. Also over a period of time, they have used innumerable fictional animals (which are conceptualized by Hanna Barbera) not only on their product packaging but also in the commercials.
A fast food chain like KFC too makes use of the ‘Rooster’ as its approach to quality Chicken Products. Although, more impetus is now given to their old mascot – Colonel Sanders.
Milo from the house of Nestle too had its mascot, Milo the Dog which was a huge hit amongst the kids during the time when the product was at the peak of its Product Life Cycle. Nowadays more emphasis is being given on the usage of animal mascots especially by software and web companies. The likes of Firefox (fox ), Zynga Games (dog), Linux (penguin) are examples of the same.
When it comes to sporting events, it is obvious that more and more sporting events have gone on to adopt a certain animal mascot. The reason being the popularity and connect with the audience that it is able to generate within a short period of time. Great examples of popular sporting events that used animal mascots would definitely include the Euro 2008(Trix & Flix-The Chipmunks), FIFA World Cup 2010 (World Cup Willie-The Leopard) and the most recent ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 (Stumpy -The Elephant).
The Indian Approach to Animal Mascots in Branding
Branding in India is not a joyride. For a country with diverse needs and expectations as well as demands, it becomes immensely tough to attain recall in the minds of the consumers. That is the reason we see marketers emphasizing on popular figures viz. celebrities, sportsmen to endorse a product. This automatically wipes out the scope of using animals as mascots. Despite this, there have been instances wherein manufacturers/advertisers have attempted to put forth this idea in the minds of the consumers. Some of them include Britannia Tiger Biscuits’ mascot as well as logo, the Indian Tiger. The Indian Tiger as a mascot has also been used in the more recent Commonwealth Games XIX which happened in Delhi. Although nowadays a few FMCG products have started using mascots for pertaining brand value, they have adopted the usage of fictional characters unlike the usage of specific of animals and popular characters. Some of them could include Sunfeast, Hippo, Kellogg’s Choco and so on.
The Future of Animals as Mascots
The only global obstacle to the use of mascots in branding is PETA. PETA has so far targeted innumerable companies and urged them to stop using animals as global mascots. PETA even tries its best in preventing colleges from using mascots for their events. The PETA even went on to describe the 2010 Vancouver Olympics’ Mascot as ‘wild bloody seal-hunters’. But as per the branding scenario, Animal Mascots continue to rule the US & Europe markets. They tend to be not only entertaining for the kids but also for the older lot. However, it appears that it will still take considerable amount of years for animal mascots to take-over the celebrity endorsing scene in India.