You’re surfing the web, looking for some financial advice. Click a link and next thing you know you’re watching a cartoonish sloth trudge across the screen. The sloth is wearing sunglasses, he’s got an Apple Watch and did he just call you a philistine?
This isn’t another sloth video your co-worker sent you (again) it’s Brokers Alliance’s new corporate mascot. They’re just one Arizona company unveiling a mascot, pitch person, or pitch animal, whatever you may call it.
No matter what generation you’re in, everyone is familiar with company mascots. There was Ronald McDonald and his gang of cohorts, the Trix Rabbit, the Pillsbury Doughboy and many others who have been getting into hijinks on our TV’s for years.
Besides the giant insurance company mascots like Flo from Progressive, and Jake from State Farm, there just aren’t too many company mascots anymore. Eric Palmer, chief marketing officer for Brokers Alliance, said many firms have focused more on its brand, and general excitement around the firm than a mascot.
As Brokers Alliance starts to ramp up its mascot, Joe the Sloth, Palmer said they hope to use the mascot in a different way than what has been done in the past. Brokers Alliance hopes to use Joe the Sloth to tell the firm’s stories, promote the firm and to help recruitment.
The insurance brokerage world is a slow moving world, Palmer said, so part of the idea behind Joe the Sloth, and “slothesizing” the firm’s employees is to have fun, and stand out from the rest of the industry.
The idea behind using a sloth came during a brainstorming session when Palmer and the Brokers Alliance team were trying to think of something that is similar to the industry. They knew the insurance brokerage world is slow moving, and is sometimes complacent, which perfectly describes a sloth.
“Hey, look we’re a sloth too,” Palmer said. “But we’re a different kind of sloth… we’re fast, we’re peppy, we’re hip.”
Brokers Alliance wanted to poke some fun at itself, and so the occasionally self-deprecating Joe the Sloth was born.
One of the benefits of creating a company mascot, especially if your firm doesn’t have an iconic logo (think Nike, or Apple) then a firm can create something memorable through its mascot, said Jennifer Kaplan, CEO and president at Evolve Public Relations and Marketing.
Repetition works for mascots, but one important aspect is being creative. Kaplan said picking a type of mascot to represent your firm that doesn’t immediately connect with the business, or something a little more “schticky” works.
Take Brokers Alliance’s sloth, she said, if they had a guy in a suit talking about finance, instead of a sloth, then it wouldn’t work as much. Geico, and its Gecko is another good example, she added. They’re selling auto insurance, and they’re not using a talking car as their mascot.
When your firm has a mascot, what do you do with it? Besides sticking the mascot on T-shirts and video ads you hope go viral, a mascot can be used to tell a story.
Scottsdale-based HomeSmart International uses its mascot, or “representation,” Adam Agent, to show the qualities realtors possess, or want to possess, said Todd Sumney, chief marketing officer at HomeSmart International.
“We wanted to do something different with our marketing and shake things up while really being able to showcase everything HomeSmart has to offer its brokers and agents,” he said.
Adam Agent is planned to have a deep story line, and is more of a character than just a regular mascot, Sumney said.
The folks at HomeSmart plan to use Adam to tell the public what it’s like to be an agent at HomeSmart, he said.
Both HomeSmart and Brokers Alliance hope their mascots do something different than what’s already out there.
HomeSmart hopes to tell deep, evolving stories while Brokers Alliance hopes to stay hip and fresh in an online world.
“We’re hoping more companies start looking at a mascot in a different way,” Palmer said. “For us, letting it be something that really lends to creating a better technological experience, especially online, because in our business people are going online first… and we want that environment to be an experience that is first of all, easy to use, and a little fun.”