Monday, October 21, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 43, Mascots

by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

Does your organization have a mascot?  Do you dress someone up in a cute, fuzzy costume several times each year and parade them around at special events?

"The term mascot – defined as a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck – informally this includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name."

So why are we so drawn to mascots?  Why do we identify with them and remember their likes and looks, and why do we get a tingle of excitement to catch a sighting?

According to Jill Purdy of All Ears Jackrabbit Blog, the reasons are many, and simple.

Mascots add value.
(People) identify with mascots that may have some things in common with them. They feel that they have a buddy – even if they are a bit nervous about the class or the topic.

Animals inspire children and adults.
Jill Robbins of the National Capital Language Resource Center writes that animal mascots can often be very effective when used as part of a learning strategy. Two elementary school teachers used a stuffed monkey to help their students learn how monitor their behavior in school. They could then transfer this concept to academic work. 

Help with serious topics.
With the help of animal mascots, even topics like radiation dangers can be successfully taught to children. Children in Fukushima learn how to stay safe from radiation from a grinning, yellow cartoon bird named Kibitan.

We need mascots.Mascots relax, entertain, and distract us ... mascots surface throughout our history. What was Captain America? A superhero, a symbol ... a mascot.  He did things no other man could do and stood for something greater than himself - exactly what we expect from our mascots! Mascots are especially ingrained in sports history.
Raised on mascots.

As children we are provided with them over and over again – Big Bird and Cookie Monster of Sesame Street fame, for example.
Our food even has mascots. Which ones do you remember from your childhood? Tony the Tiger? Ronald McDonald?

So you're sold - you want a mascot to promote your organization.  How do you begin?  According to "The Effective Marketer", there are four steps to success:

  1. Give the brand human traits
  2. Create a life, backstory to your character/mascot
  3. Plan for the long run
  4. Don’t overcomplicate

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