As the Rugby World Cup takes place this month (Come on Ireland!), you may have noticed the official mascot for the tournament in Japan. Ren-G is based on shishi, sacred lion-like mythical creatures that are said to bring happiness and ward off evil. Ren-G, according to the official Rugby World Cup website, was born when the ancient spirit of shishi met the five values of rugby; integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and, judging by the website, the inability to think of a fifth value.
Of course, mascots are de rigueur in sports. They vary from the instantly identifiable (Manchester United’s Fred the Red and the Philadelphia Phillies Phillie Phanatic) to the overly-literal (West Bromwich Albion’s Boiler Man, following their partnership with a boiler company) to the downright nightmare-inducing like the New Orleans Pelicans King Cake Baby (look it up, if you dare.)
At their best mascots foster a sense of goodwill between fans and their team, and have an ability to further an organisation’s narrative off the field. Mascots aren’t the sole reserve of the sports industry however, and many brands utilise them as a means of promoting a sense of identity
Not every brand should create a mascot, but when utilised correctly they have the potential to bring brands to another level. Tony the Tiger was grrrreat for Frosties,
It could be argued that social media influencers are taking the place of mascots when it comes to brands attempting to forge a connection with their audience. Influencers have an annoying human tendency to age out of a brand’s target demographic however, while mascots are ageless.
Furthermore, as Carol Phillips of Brand Amplitude said; “They never get in trouble with the law. They don’t up their fees. You can use them for a long, long time.”
As one of the most successful brand mascots of the 21st Century might say, “simples.”