With the New Orleans Super Bowl Hangover (literal for some) just about over, I thought it relevant to talk about the NBA’s new New Orleans Mascot, the New Orleans Pelicans. That’s not a typo. It has caused a lot of chatter. I don’t mind the logo, but I can’t say I like the name. As it rolls off the tongue, its hard to take the name seriously. A pelican doesn’t seem the formidable even when you cross an angry one. A Trail Cat (a.k.a. cougar) on the other hand (much like the Portland Trail Blazers Mascot) seems a lot more formidable.
About six hours south of our last Mascot Monday feature (Sammy the Slug) lives another unique mascot, UC Irvine’s Peter the Anteater. This mascot was a close second to Sammy, according to my father.
According the Anteater Chronicles website, the Anteater was chose in 1965 in a student election. ” The choice was hailed for its originality, winning over the second place choice “None of these” and the more common – if less imaginative – Eagles, Unicorns and Seahawks.” This mascot is unique and unexpected, but the reason you may have heard of him before is thanks to a sign at John Wayne International Airport reads “Welcome to Anteater Country.”
In attempt to spice up some of my Mondays and bring to life my dad’s love of mascot names, I have decided to take a peek at different mascots around the country (and maybe the world) in frequent installments called Mascot Mondays. Since I missed last Monday and will probably miss the following Monday, due to the Holidays, today’s post will be for both. So…anyway, a Google search defined a mascot as, “A person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck or that is used to symbolize a particular event or organization.” At Wazzu, I was a fairly normal mascot (Butch. T. Cougar), but I hope to discover some not so normal good luck bearers going forward.
First up: Sammy the Slug
UC Santa Cruz has one of the most amusing and awesome (according to my father) mascots: The Banana Slug. UC Santa Cruz wanted more inclusive physical education and recreational programs and according to the UC Santa Cruz website, “The students’ embrace of such a lowly creature was their response to the fierce athletic competition fostered at most American universities.” While the mascot name does not foster fear, in certainly does well at symbolizing a more welcoming environment and as one of their T-Shirts states: “Banana Slugs-No Known Predators.”
Adopting a mascot at your financial institution could significantly help engagement with your customers, while making your branding efforts easier. One financial institution, Middleburg Bank, has not necessarily out foxed anyone, but rather out focused other banks in their marketing approach around their “spokesfox”, Mosby.
As Mosby says on Middleburg Bank’s Website: ” I have been associated with the Bank since 1924, when the first office of Middleburg Bank opened across from the Red Fox Inn. ‘Why is a fox associated with Middleburg Bank?’ you might ask. Well, for generations, we foxes have long been a part of the culture of Middleburg and the surrounding areas of Virginia. As the fox is an intelligent, resourceful animal (if I do say so myself), I was chosen to represent the spirit of the bank and I’ve been an integral part of the Bank’s identity for many years. A couple of years ago, the Bank wisely made the decision to feature me as their “spokesfox” and since that time, my role within the Bank has continued to grow. In fact, last month Gary let me take over the Bank’s Facebook page and interact there with our many clients and fans.”
I’m on hundreds of bank websites/social media pages each week and Middleburg Bank really stands out, thanks to Mosby. In talking to Robert Miller, Chief Marketing Officer at Middleburg Bank, he says that without Mosby, their marketing would look very different “with messages built around products, rates and commitment to the community. While we still touch on some of those things in our
current marketing, using Mosby has allowed us to develop a distinctive identity, voice and personality. We believe that over the long haul, this approach will drive the brand’s likeability and help separate us from the pack.”
I can identify with this, stemming from a couple of my own experiences. Universities use mascot’s for the same purpose as banks; to symbolize the identity of the group, school, city or community for which it represents. I was the Cougar mascot (Butch T. Cougar) of Washington State University. I was surprised about how much time I had to put in to understand the personality of Washington State’s beloved mascot. The Cougar mascot before me was Blitz the Seahawk for the Seattle Seahawks and he helped train me. This may sound silly, but there were three of us all playing the role of Butch T. Cougar and we all needed to have the same walk, mannerisms etc. They took this serious enough that I was not allowed to tell anyone who I was. It was to remain a secret until right before I graduated.
Yet another example comes from when I did a couple of appearances as Chase the Dog, while working for Chase Bank. Now, I was there during the “fun” occupy movement and let’s just say Chase wasn’t seen as the best bank in the universe, yet there was more engagement happening in our branch around a mascot that couldn’t talk then we had prior. People could identify with the personality of a dog; loyal, happy, loveable and eager to meet new people.
So what’s the point? Well, so many financial institutions have enough people working on marketing, that it’s hard to find one voice or one personality. Having one voice and personality is so important and nobody knows what that voice and personality looks and sounds like better than the bank. There is an Irish Proverb that says, “The fox never found a better messenger than himself.” This is so important because if someone else does all the work, you may have a very different voice/personality and this could compromise your brand. When asked by folks why I love Washington State so much, all I have to do is describe the personality of the mascot I worked so hard to become; Courageous no matter what, community focused, VERY spirited, kind, and willing to waive the flag anytime, anywhere. How do you easily describe your bank’s voice/personality without your financial institution just adding to all the white noise? I know how Middleburg Bank does…