11th March 2014

The dangerous life of a brand mascot

By Helen Gradwell on Tuesday March 11, 2014

Poor old Captain Birdseye has been canned this week in favour of a ‘modern family’ and, I think it’s fair to say, the nation is in mourning.

Never mind the fact we’ve not really seen the grizzled old seafarer on our televisions in years – instead a sinister, freezer-dwelling polar bear who talks to various family members in the cold, expressionless voice of a man trying to convince somebody to jump off a building.

It seems that absence does make the heart grow fonder, as we only seem to realise how much we value beloved mascots when they are gone. I, for example, miss the old Mr Muscle. The new one is actually muscly – what’s that about?

But life is dangerous for a mascot. Mascots bring consistent tone and messaging throughout a brand’s advertising, which can either cement them firmly in the hearts of the nation, or absolutely bore everyone’s pants off.

Some mascots become so irritating they are met with hatred and revulsion. Case in point: Gio Compario from the Go Compare adverts. It was the ‘in thing’ to despise this rotund, moustachioed, opera-singing insurance peddler, to the point that Go Compare caught on and started trying to ‘kill him’ in its marketing (though I never really saw what all the fuss was about). We then watched as he battled to keep himself relevant, proposing rap songs and a dog playing a piano to a hostile marketing team.

Haha, look at his widdle wig. He thinks he’s people!

Anyway, it seems he is gone (for now) replaced by the fictional land of LlandofsavingmoneyandgettingtherightdealgogoGoCompare – which isn’t annoying at all.

There are some mascots, however, which really do deserve to sink to the bottom of the briny sea, like those [expletive deleted] Wonga puppets.

I could go on all day about how much I hate Earl, Betty and Joyce, but I will shorten it to this: why would a brand with the slogan ‘Straight Talking Money’ use fluffy, distracting mascots which spectacularly fail to convey the point? Could it be because, if laid out straight, Wonga’s 5853% APR loans are distinctly unappealing?

But back to Captain Birdseye. His dismissal has certainly brought everyone’s attention back to the Birdseye brand, which can only be a good thing, surely?

Although I can think of a more fitting replacement: