Update June, 2018: Mascots in advertising are one of the brands’ most effective ways of bonding with their customers and creating brand love. No matter if the company is big or small, most of the successful businesses realize the advantages of using characters in their advertising campaigns and embodying their values and vision into the mascots. Since we were kids, we are accustomed of assosiating things with visuals of heroes, characters and creatures. It always helped in remembering information as well, because characters just stick into our memory.
In the following article we will show you some famous (and not-so-famous) examples of mascots, which are loved both from children and adults for the spirit, entertainment and vibe their bring into advertising.
‘Old but gold’ mascots in advertising – did you know they were here for so long?
Let’s have a look first at some mascots in advertising which have been around for some time and no doubt, have won audience’s hearts. Probably they got some polish through the years, or they disappeared and they came even stronger, but still, they are recognized by the majority of consumers.
Most of the following examples are well known mascots in the American and European markets. If you’d like to further dig into the topic, you might be also curious to search for Australian mascots in advertising. Aussies also have a rich library of characters and mascots in their commercials. But first, let’s spark your interest in the topic, by giving you some bits for inspiration from the first two huge market worlds:
1. Hillarious panda commercials for Panda Cheese – Diary products
Really – this panda is hillarious. No surprise that the campaigns for this cheese went all viral. The situations shown in the commercial are quite different one from another, but they all have one thing in common: a silent, cute panda mascot who shows up angry at different events and starts smashing the place. Why? Because the panda is so sweet and you simply HAVE TO use its brand’s products (and no other)! Just a small number – one of the campaigns has over 5 million views on YouTube. Well, everyone likes humor and a good laugh!
2. Cute penguins for Kinder Pingui
Kinder Pingui is a delicious, hand-held chocolate covered chilled snack – what better mascot for a kid’s dessert than a cute, round, happy-hoppy penguin? The designers nailed it – no doubt in that!
3. Mitsubishi‘s White Bear bloopers and adorable fails
Well, we are all kind of tired of the endless polished, high-class, high-energy, luxury-power commercials about cars. Somehow, at some point, they all blend. Can you name an advertisment about cars that made a strong impression on you lately? Our point exactly… What Mitsubishi did smart was to include a mascot in their advertising campaigns. They used a clumpsy, big fluffy polar bear in contrast with their stable, fierce and massive vehicles. They took things one step further, by showing to the customer “outtakes” from the commercial. Which are actually hillarious and the attention-grabber. Plus, who doesn’t like fail compilations and bloopers? Good job!
4. Old Speckled Hen – a gentleman fox
A gentleman fox character from England. You can see him around the pubs, talking to bartenders, customers, friends. Talking about beer. A great way to feel the culture of the company, the beer and to feel part of the community. If you look at the comments under the advertisements – everyone loves Speckled Henry and even worries about him getting safe home after the pub tours. So sweet!
5. Duracell’s hyperactive bunny
Duracell’s pink bunny mascot is well known from close to… everyone. The company made a great choice of picking a hyperactive, fast and friendly animal as their mascot – to express the energy and durability of their products.
6. Churchill the Nodding dog – Churchill Insurance
The Churchill nodding dog was created in 1994, during a staff competition designed to identify ways to differentiate the brand from Winston Churchill. The first nodding dog adverts were produced in 1996, making the dog a hit with children and adults. The mascot was participating in 22 pantomime shows around the UK and the dog has become a symbol of reliability and trust. You didn’t know what the company is offering? Insurances. Have a look at their adorable and funny commercials to see that serious businesses can also be fun! And people love it.
7. Flat Eric – Levis – a bit quirky
Flat Eric was a yellow puppet character seen in a series of commercials for Levi’s Jeans in the UK. The mascot was designed by French artist and his original name was Stephane. The company renamed him to Eric, so it sounds more international and ‘Flat’ because of his head shape. The campaign was quite costly for the company, but the public enjoyed the puppet’s adventures, with a hint of rebelliousness to his character. We must admit, it fits the company’s vision and brand perfectly.
8. Monkey – PG Tips
A knitted monkey puppet/mascot, popular in the UK for PG tips tea company commercials. Again, advertisers use humor to melt our hearts, and with this little cowardly, but adorable monkey, we can say that… they succeeded! Did you know that there were popular series of adverts featuring live chimps which ran between 1956 and 2002? Well, the monkey never ‘gets old’ though!
9. Charmin – Adorable Bear Family
The Charmin bear family wasn’t always mascot for the company. As of 2016, the Charmin Bear appeared in more than 70 commercials for Charmin products – in 1928 the logo mascot was a female silhouette, supplemented by a baby in 1953, replacing the woman by 1956. Then, they had a man as a mascot. The first bear mascot was introduced in 2000 in the USA by D’arcy Advertising in Britain. The overall rebranding happened when Procter&Gamble bought the founding company and marketed the products also in Europe. Since 2000, the bear family grew with several members- cubs and seems that people like them! The bear mascots represent two main qualities of the products – soft and strong. Good job!
10. Coccolino – one of the most famous bear mascots of all time
Another brand also uses a bear mascot as a synonym for softness and care – this time the product is laundry softener. In earlier campaigns with the mascot, marketers stressed on the softness of the bear and its snuggliness. Whereas in more recent years, the Coccolino brand stresses more on the freshness and diverse fragrances of their products, adding more value for their clients.
11. Milka – why the chocolate of Milka is so tender
The Milka cow is probably one of the most famous mascots in the advertising world. The brand always emphasizes on the tenderness of their chocolate – the calm cow, the delicate purple color, emblematic of their products.
The company has understood that using a mascot is a crucial part in creating an emotional connection between the brand and the consumer and they have used their cow mascot since 1901. Today, their purple package stands out from the wide variety on the supermarkets’ shelves and always remind us about luxury, relaxation, soothing and… Why not encouraging us to spoil ourselves and indulge in little chocolate pleasure?
12. Mr. Mucus – Mucinex
In 2008, Mucinex has become the best-selling consumer health brand in the states and no doubt, their mascot played a big role in promoting the brand and building customer’s recognition. Mr. Mucus appeared for the first time in 2004 and since then, he got slimmer, wetter and with advanced CGI effects. The company’s expenses on advertising range from $50,000 to $100,000 per year, spending even more with each year, which comes to prove, that the marketers see positive results from the campaigns.
13. Poppin’ Fresh – Pillsbury (Pillsbury Doughboy)
The Pillsbury Doughboy is part of Pillsbury’s advertisement campaigns since 1965. He had to represent Pilsbury’s refrigerated dough product line. The designer added a chef’s hat, scarf and rosy cheeks to the character to make it more believable. The old commercials were made with the help of clay stop-motion animation and today CGI is used. The character is used in over 600 commercials for more than 50 of the company’s products. An interesting fact is, that an entire family was created in the 70s, consisting of Mrs. Doughgirl, Flapjack (dog) and other. The toys were selling as hot cakes. Poking finger in the Doughboy’s stomach and hearing him giggling is one of the fun elements and trademarks of their commercials.
Bears are certainly one of the most preferred mascots – they simply appeal to all kind of audiences. The next representative is Pom Bear – bear mascot for potato snack. His looks slightly changed through the years but he kept his crown and neckerchief on, as well as his wide and friendly smile. Most of the commercials are adventurous, cheerful and family/children orientated. The best part of their strategy for the campaigns is, including the bear mascot in all sorts of activities and putting him into action – it certainly keeps you entertained!
15. Mr. Tayto for Tayto Crisps
Mr. Tayto is the mascot of the Irish Tayto Crisps. He was first introduced in 1954 and was traditionally animated, until 2011, where CGI replaced the old way of creating the commercials. Mr. Tayto is even a mascot for a theme park and he is loved by people because of his round, smiling potato face, small, cute, black eyes and gentleman’s outfit. A fun fact is that Tayto brand got a fine during 2007’s elections, because they made funny, fake posters, urging people to vote for Mr. Tayto. Actually, many people did, which provoked the reaction from the authorities.
16. Tetley Tea Folk – Tetley Tea
The characters are part of the advertising campaigns of the tea company since 1973. They all have different personalities, which keeps the audience intrigued and help people relate to the little friends. The company revised their marketing strategy and decided to create more modern campaigns aiming at younger, sophisticated tea lovers. The popular mascots dropped out of the campaigns in 2001, but sales dropped significantly also. That proves the huge impact mascots in advertising have on people and the brand love that can be built with their help.
17. Sonny the Cuckoo Bird – Cocoa Puffs Cereal
Another successful mascot, created back in 1962 is Sonny the Cuckoo bird. An interesting fact is, that in the oldest commercial of the cereal brand there were two characters – grandfather and grandchild – calling each other Granny and Sonny. As the grandfather dropped out from the commercial, the name Sonny remained as a nickname for the bird. A common commercial for this company would be the bird mascot trying to focus on some kind of task but suddenly is distracted from announcing the delicious breakfast (and of course, going all cu-cuckoo about it!). As most of the brands with long history, the company redesigned its mascot several times – in the beginning, the bird was wearing a striped shirt, later in the 90-s – extreme clothes and in the most recent versions… it doesn’t wear any clothes on. Anyway, check him out, he will… wake you up!
18. Hilarious commercials of Serta‘s Counting Sheep
The story behind the creation of these mascots is quite interesting, as told by Serta Mattress brand. In the middle of a sleepless night, a tired advertising executive was regretting his decision of not buying a new Serta mattress earlier. He was tossing and turning in his uncomfortable bed and as his last hope for falling asleep, he started counting sheep. He knew immediately, that this is a great opportunity for advertisement and he called Serta the next day with his proposal for mascots. The brand fell in love with the idea and it took some time before finishing the creation of the different characters – all with interesting and versatile personalities. The sheep are so popular, that they are sold as toy collections/plush toys, the commercials won several prizes for advertising. We are not surprised – their TV spots are always interesting and funny – check out for yourselves:
19. StarKist Tuna – Charlie the Tuna – since 1961
Well, even back in 1961, when the mascot was created, he was a real hipster! Yes, you read correctly! He is wearing a Greek fisherman’s hat and glasses and dreams to be caught by the seafood company. He is confident to be a gentleman with a great taste for seafood products. All these little things make the advertisements adorable and funny. You can watch one of the more recent commercials below:
What about some new great mascots in advertising?
Of course, all of the upper mentioned mascots are somewhat famous, if not hugely popular. Some of them have a long history and were redesigned over time, some of the mascots did not make til today. Let’s see some examples of freshly baked mascots in advertising from talented designers we found on the web:
Africa Jones is a Reckitt Benckiser brand mascot, illustrated by David Theron. The design team went through a very interesting process, concepts and experimentation, before choosing the right vision for their advertising. Click on the picture or the heading to open the whole project + process showcased on Behance.
We just love how Graeme transformed the character from 2a D medium into a 3D, cute toy with nice texturing and layers. Graeme Jack developed Salty as a mascot for the Port of Vancouver. Here is what the author says about his creation: “Salty is a very kind-hearted seagull. He has an acute sense of smell and one weakness, French Fries. Later we designed a costume and turned Salty into a physical mascot and was then later turned into merchandise.”
But Salty is not the only successful mascot created by Graeme – a few years back he developed characters for www.return-it.ca bottle depots.
They appeared in some tv commercials which can be viewed here:
They became so popular that audience called them the “Return-It Gang” – judging people for not recycling. Furthermore, they become heroes in a video game in theatres called The Return-It Sort ‘n’ Toss. The cute gang gathered over 11.4 million giphy plays this year. Now, they are developed into stuffed toys, which will be used for giveaways.
A slightly different project – characters designed for short animation and game, but again to be used in advertising materials. Check out the whole project on Behance – there are some nice action poses of the mice and backgrounds to see. Computer animation is becoming widely spread in advertising. Once a puppet character is created, it can be moved (rigged) in various ways and reused. That saves costs and time for some studio, but also allows applying a wide range of effects to the animations.
The following project is consisting of artworks created for the 2015 D23 Expo in Anaheim, presenting the Target brand. The author, Josh Ellingson did a great job in explaining different styles, in which a mascot can be created. He also shows how he put his knowledge into creating the dog mascot for the company.
If you are curious to see through how many stages a designer and a client are going, before choosing a final design, this project will give you a very good idea. It is important to keep the client updated with the concept work. Often, along the way, the client request changes. It is a natural part of the process, to take new directions and some ideas to pop up when presented with the initial concept. Creating a mascot is an exciting process, but also requiring focus and effort from both sides. Hopefully, in the end, something beautiful is created, as this simple, but a heerful rooster.
If you think it’s hard to bring personality to a jar… for a peanut butter brand – check out Carl’s pitch for a vital and youthful mascot for the company. Very simple, expressive and on point.
TortamiVia is a small, but very successful bakery in Vicenza, Italy. The designer was asked to create characters to add fun and personality to the brand. As a basis for the created mascots/illustrations the artist used the bakery’s best selling products. The characters were then used for packaging – paper bags, boxes, coffee cups and for their delivery vans. Check out the whole project on Behance – it is cheerful, fresh and colorful! Yum!
Dolphins, parrots, raccoons – you’ve got it all in the cheerful and colorful portfolio of Paco. The great thing about this artist’s work is that he always places his mascot characters in surroundings and context, which makes his art even more compelling and enjoyable. Oh, did we mentioned there is a llama enjoying a delicious milkshake in one of his concepts? Yes, we are buying this milkshake – surely it looks delicious!
Have we missed something? Drop us a line, we’d be glad to hear! Which are your favorite mascots in advertising and why? Understanding why they made such a big impression on you, can help you create a successful mascot for your own business! If you don’t have a company, well, you can still enjoy the beautiful art we all grew up with!
Enjoy, we hope that you liked this read, stay tuned for more!