Brand Characters

Are brand characters still winners in the digital age?

Some of the most memorable campaigns in advertising history have featured a character or characters. Think Coco, the Coco Pops monkey,  who we’ve been lucky enough to work with at Tricycle; Mr. Sheen; The Milky Bar Kid; The Nesquick Rabbit, the list goes on and on. Yet these listed and those which spring to mind instantly, all have significant equity and history built on peak time advertising campaigns over decades and decades, begging the question:

“Is it possible to build a loved brand character from scratch in the digital age?”

We think so, but it’s not as straight forward as it once was. The media landscape and tactics available are more diverse than ever before. Meaning the characters have to be more multi-dimensional and flexible; they have to really appeal to the audience and be instantly recognisable and crucially, they should absolutely personify the brand and work across channels  – TV, digital and print.

Quite a challenge. But if done well, characters can really pay off for brands.

Here are a couple of examples that spring to mind.

Take for instance Alexsandr and Sergei, The Meerkats. They not only give Compare The Market a memorable brand character for TV advertising campaigns and good old fashioned sales promotions, but also a voice on social media (they have their own Twitter accounts) and a virtually inexhaustible amount of shareable digital content.

Similarly at Tricycle we launched Foxy, for BWIN’s Foxy Bingo, and we’ve been developing him ever since; keeping him fresh, on brand and relevant. Whilst the media budget is not that of Alexsandr and his furry crew, Foxy has kept the Foxy Bingo brand #1 in their category.

We’ve managed ‘him’ since 2007.  Creating all the comms (TV, digital content, idents, charity tie-ups, radio, billboards), his tone of voice on social media and online. Foxy is the Foxy Bingo community personified;  an embodiment of spirit of fun.

Foxy Bingo - Get Happy

According to Campaigns’ Adwatch – who not only rated our 2015 campaigns ‘the year’s best-value TV advertising’ –  also noted that ‘turnover sky-rocked by 91%, all thanks to work on their unique, fun, lovable and community-focused mascot, Foxy.’

So in our view – yes – brand characters are still winners but advertisers need to take much more into account when developing them or they could be expensive flops.

What or who do you think are the most memorable new brand characters from recent years? We would love to hear from you and of course, do contact us if you think your advertising could do with driving 91% growth and being named next years best value TV advertising.