Just ask Ronald McDonald. He first appeared in McDonald’s advertising in 1963 and is probably the most iconic marketing mascot ever. When I was at school I had a sticker of him on my maths textbook. But since the turn of the century, medical experts and family groups rallied to have him removed from McDonald’s advertising, blaming him for the rise in childhood obesity. McDonald’s executives obliged, reducing Ron's profile. But they've recently announced that Ronald is back and bigger (in stature, not weight) than ever. The company has committed to his focal presence in upcoming campaigns. Mortein‘s 'Louie the Fly’ also recently faced extinction, this time at the hands of its own creators. They threatened to kill him off, but in the end Louie was saved by consumers voting on Facebook to keep him.
Marketers say mascots help personify brands, allowing a deeper connection with consumers. The ‘Chesty Bond’ guy has spruiked Bonds singlets since 1938 and developed a cult status in Australian garment manufacturing. The Duracell bunny is the friendly, fluffy face of a battery empire. The Rice Bubbles mascots ‘Snap, ‘Crackle’ and ‘Pop’ play alongside the Fruit Loops ‘Toucan Sam’, Frosties ‘Tony the Tiger’ and the YoGO gorilla in making food marketing child’s play.
And there’s a new breed of mascot emerging. The Dodo internet bird, ING’s orangutan and the Sensis sock-puppet are all attempts to make complex or boring services fun. These modern mascots may fade fast, but the marketers who created them no doubt hope they might just become the next Ronald McDonald.