From the British & Irish Lions Rugby Union cuddly Lion mascot to 2012’s Wenlock and Mandeville, plush soft toys make great bespoke promotional giveaways, in 1966 we had World Cup Willie and in 2016 the BPMA used Ellie the Elephant who joined me on my Lands End to John O’Groats charity cycle ride.
In one form or another mascots have been around for longer than you’d think. In fact the word mascot – from the French mascotte or lucky charm – was first used in English in the 1880s and quickly came to mean a good luck animal associated with a sporting club. At first these would be live animals who would parade on the pitch, but increasingly they were replaced by the costumed characters we all know and love. These date from the 1960s, when World Cup Willie showed England the way to victory in the Football World Cup.
From Smokey the Scottish terrier with his mascot coat to the unforgettable Mischa the Bear, mascots have been endearing, unique and sometimes downright weird, but their ability to act as a beloved ambassador for a team or an event make them an invaluable promotional product for your company or charity event.
If you’re a follower of rugby you’ll know that BIL is the lion mascot for the British & Irish Lions rugby union on tour in New Zealand this year, and poor old Maro Itoje as the youngest player on tour has the responsibility of looking after him, while his team mates do their best to hide him from him!
The Emotional Connection
Mascots are now big business for manufacturers of collectables and memorabilia, and several – like the yellow lion plush toy given to winners at the Tour de France – are highly sought after. It was also announced this week that the Women’s Tour, the British cycling race that attracts the best riders in the world, would hand out their very own cuddly toy mascot. These instantly recognisable giveaways make for ‘must have’ marketing, even though you’d have to win a stage in one of the sport’s toughest men’s or women’s events to qualify.
But why do mascots work? Through familiarity. If you’re a football fan you grow up with your team’s mascot who can make you laugh and cry as your team faces triumph or defeat. In some way, mascots stand for something bigger than the sport – the Tour de France lion embodies all the qualities of courage, determination and discipline that a Grand champion cyclist needs. It’s a stretch to say that your plush toys will carry that kind of weight, but they definitely add value when used in a marketing context, conveying a sense of worth beyond their cost.
So why are plush toys such an endearing giveaway at sporting events? After all, they’re hardly macho and they don’t obey one of the prime rules of promotional products, that they be useful. But what plush toys do beautifully, and what makes them so covetable, is that they provoke an instant emotional response in the recipient which can help to create a positive impression of your brand.
Make it Your Own
The Credit Lyonnais Lion has been going strong since 1987, and even though the lion is no longer the bank’s symbol and they threatened to replace the cuddly lion with a trophy last year, good sense has prevailed. There’s something completely exclusive about this particular giveaway that you can emulate if you spend some time getting your plush toy mascot right and customising their look. Whether you design your mascot from scratch or simply add a scarf with a logo, the scope for creating a plush giveaway that reflects your business is huge. Create even greater ownership by encouraging your staff, or children at a local school, to get involved in designing your new business or charity mascot.
Better yet, your plush promotional item is unlikely to get left in the hotel room like your printed pen might. Even if the recipient isn’t a fan of plush toys, the chances are they know someone who is and who will be delighted to receive your plush mascot, thus giving your promotional product lasting power and your brand impression greater reach. You’re not just exposing your brand to the original recipient but to everyone they come into contact with. So whether you’re plush promotional mascot sits on a desk or becomes a child’s favourite plaything, it’s creating impressions wherever it goes.
The Plush Fundraiser
If you’re promoting a good cause and using a charity sports event to raise money, then a plush toy can make an excellent fundraiser. It’s something that people are happy to take away in return for a donation yet will act as a lasting reminder of the good cause they contributed to. Obviously, a mascot makes sense for a sporting fundraiser and can then be reflected on a smaller scale in a plush toy, however strange they look – remember 2012 and how popular Wenlock and Mandeville were?
Low Cost, High Impact
Plush promotional items are a unique add on for any marketing campaign, helping you stand out from the crowd and gain a useful competitive edge. Never underestimate the power of collectibles, with Beanie Babies and even Happy Meal toys selling for small fortunes. Promotional giveaways help you generate the that kind of ‘must have’ buzz of more expensive campaigns and often outstrips them in terms of reach and retention. One of the attractions of promotional products is their success as a low cost advertising medium with a big RoI, that showcases your brand at an affordable price. A well chosen product, whether it’s a printed pen, branded powerbank or collectible plush, is the gift that really does keep on giving.
So Why do Plush Promotional Mascots Work?
58% of all promotional products are kept for anywhere up to 4 years, according to a PPAI survey. If your plush mascot was only to get looked at once a week that’s over 200 impressions, and you can multiply those out according to number of mascots and the fact that you’re likely to keep a cute plush item on display. The PPAI also found that a good promotional product not only creates a positive impression of your business, but impacts positively on recommendations and customer loyalty, and what better product to create that emotional connection than a cute plush that has value and appeal across the generations.
If you want to create a promotional campaign that generates buzz far beyond its target market, then you need to consider promotional products and plush mascots as part of your marketing strategy.
To find out more about developing a bespoke plush toy or mascot to help you communicate your message & build relationships with your target audience call Sussex Promotions, The Promotional Product Experts on 01273 651072 or visit the web site.