Historically confined to television and print, mascots are finding new footing in the evolving digital age, weaving their consistent storylines through multiple web entities. Today, social media is giving marketers a whole new playground to test and nurture brand-avatars, as well as other new concepts. This is the beauty of launching a brand-linked character in the social-media era. With a limited investment, companies can monitor how well a new mascot is accepted by their brand community. It’s the perfect limited platform to test a new idea and to measure results. READ MORE.

dougpeanutHere’s a modern day example of an old-line company integrating their avatar branding into their online marketing strategy: Kraft Foods has introduced Peanut Butter Doug, a character who lives almost entirely online. Introduced to promote Kraft’s new Planters Peanut Butter, he plays a stunt double for the 96-year-old Mr. Peanut. Doug specializes in getting crunched into peanut butter while subbing for Mr. Peanut in violent scenes. Doug’s role is that of a lovable wannabe star who struggles to grow enough popularity to have his own Facebook page, so he rents space on Mr. Peanut’s page.

While the limited social media roll-out seems like the perfect scenario to test new avatar acceptance, some brands have gone full-force right away, making mascots the star of TV ads and overlapping social media campaigns to develop more involved storylines.

Let’s look at an example of going “all in” with a new avatar: Mars Chocolate North America used advertising’s grandest stage to unveil its new M&M’s character, releasing “Ms. Brown” as the star of a multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad. The catty Ms. Brown even held a live video chat with followers on Facebook, and appeared on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” She also has her own channel on Pandora.msbrown

All of this attention is grand, but what of ROI? Another attraction of mascot social media exposure is quantifiable information. Marketers can utilize Google Analytics (the numbers don’t lie) to determine just how much valuable brand exposure and engagement a character is generating. Huge successes, like Aflac’s duck (313,500+ Facebook fans, 14,537+ followers on Twitter) convinced the company of the enormous potential in unleashing the feathered mascot across all their integrated marketing channels.

Having a mascot connecting a company’s various social media channels brings consistency, perceived integration and brand familiarity. Depending on their nature, mascots can soften the brand’s appearance, add humor, or even represent aggressiveness when used in online marketing (re: Capital One’s Vikings: Grrrr… What’s in Your Wallet?). When creating a company profile on social-networking sites, avatars provide the personality to the brand profile being posted.

In short, social media channels, like Facebook, are based around personal interaction. Avatars and Mascots provide users with a “personality” to communicate with, instead of a corporate PR rep, that will engage the audience in a measured creative approach with trackable results.

Check out some of our avatars and mascots here and in our new Brand & Campaigns section!