Characters create a whole new level of brand engagement through building strong relationships which are interactive and that consumers can relate to at a deeper level. Characters help in putting a face behind a brand on non- tangible products such as insurance websites or on highly competitive products such as food, cosmetics or electronics, just to name a few.
A character is successful if it manages to be memorable; captures the brand’s identity and its offerings and bring out emotion which helps the customers have an emotional attachment to the brand.
Here are 7 characters that I feel have been successful in advertising by creating brand resonance and overall consumer engagement.
Old Spice Campaign
This has been one of the most successful social media campaigns that engaged customers at a global level. The campaign allowed users to send messages to the “Old Spice man" through a social media channel and wait for his personalised video response. This definitely was a very creative way of increasing customer engagement!
Looking at the numbers, it had over 40 million views on You Tube on the first week of its campaign, over 800% Facebook Fan interaction, Oldspice.com website traffic increased by 300% and generated an increase in sales by 27% over 6 months since launching. In 2010, Old Spice became the leading body wash for men after this campaign was launched (Source).Source
Aleksandr Orlov – ComparetheMarket.com
Meet Aleksandr Orlov, the founder of Comparethemeerkat.com, a website that allows visitors to compare meerkats online with over 2 million hits per month.
Before Orlov’s arrival, Comparethemarket.com was a low ranking website in a crowded market. Since the campaign, the website’s traffic grew by 80% and became UK’s fourth most popular website behind leader Moneysupermarket.com, Confused.com (second) and Gocompare.com (third). Other factors that made Aleksandr Orlov successful are his 50,000 followers on Twitter and 700,000 Facebook fans. His catchy phrase “simples" (pronounced “seemples") made it into the Oxford English Dictionary! (Source).
Aleksandr has been a character that has definitely made an impact to Comparethemarket.com.Source
Tony the Tiger
Born in 1952, Tony the Tiger has been associated with Kellogg’s Frosties for years. He is known for his red bandana around his neck, orange and black stripes and bright yellow eyes. His slogan “They’re grrrrreat!" is one of the longest running slogan in TV advertising history.
Tony is an asset for Kellogg’s as his positive brand image has had a direct impact on sales performance in a highly competitive market for cereals. Throughout the decades, his physical appearance may have changed however the tweaking has helped him become more distinctive in the ever-changing and competitive commercial environment. Tony as the mascot for Frosties has helped it remain Kellogg’s key brand.
Tony the Tiger (1952)Source
Tony the Tiger (2011)Source
Kids love McDonald’s for their delicious food that comes with a toy and the exciting playgrounds. Why? This is due to Ronald McDonald, the happy-go-lucky and friendly clown, who was launched in 1952 as a character to encourage children to buy “The Happy Meal" from McDonald’s. He was a huge success as he helped in creating a huge customer base that made McDonald’s one of the leading fast food chains in the United States and the UK.Source
The Energizer Bunny
The Energizer Bunny (known for its big drum and cool shades) is an ideal ad character as it has done the perfect job of showcasing Energizer’s competitive edge as being a battery that lasts longer than any other. It was named the Chief Bunny operator (CBO) from Energizer to beat its competitor, the Duracell Bunnies. Energizer’s tagline “just keep going and going" was a hit in the advertising world that even became part of the vocabulary for American presidential candidates including George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Howard Dean in 2004 (Source). The brand, Eveready, used the Energizer Bunny for eight years as they believed that it was still viable. Many have found the bunny irritating, however that’s the point where he doesn’t stop and neither does Energizer batteries (Source).Source
M&M are unique in terms of their marketing strategy whereby unlike their candy competitors who base their strategies around new products and flavours, this brand focuses on characters. All their characters have their own unique personalities. From the Mr Red who is known to be witty, to the flirty Mr. Blue, Shy Mr. Yellow and Sexy Ms. Green now have a new friend Ms. Brown who is known to be the ‘chocolate spokesperson’ for the M&M brand (Source).
M&M characters are not only successful due to their unique attributes but also how their video links, available on Social Media (over 700,000 fans on Facebook) as well as TV and print ads, relate to current affairs that capture the audience interests such as famous movies or sporting events like the recent London Olympics (Source). The M&M distinctive characters have emphasized on product quality and overall brand essence that has helped in creating a strong relationship between the M&M’s candies and the consumers.Source
Gio Compario –Go Compare
Gio, the annoying opera singer created in 2009 to advertise Go Compare’s insurance comparison website has been one of the most successful characters over the last few years alongside Compare the Market’s character, Alexandr the Meerkat.
After his introduction, Gio’s success shone through the increase in brand awareness by 450%, an increase in customers by 20% and a rise in profit margins by 35% to £29.9 million pounds in 2010 (Source).
Gio’s phrase “Go Compare!!" was initially very catchy however viewers started getting irritated which turned them off from using Go Compare websites. The new TV ads now try to kill him off therefore leading to more website traffic: this therefore shows that redirecting a character’s storyline can be just as effective and successful as having a character that has had a long-lived storyline.Source
Other 20th Century characters that have been successful are:
The Marlboro Man
Snap, Crackle and Pop
The Pillsbury Doughboy
The Michelin Man
Lucky Charms Leprechaun
The Green Giant