Those of you who know the Fewell family will remember Herbie the Carrot making his appearance into the school meals market back in the 80s. At the time, he was the first of his kind and is still going strong here in North Yorkshire. During the years of working in this sector, I’ve seen and heard about many more school meals characters. Through the My School Lunch website I’ve even been fortunate enough to write about many mascots, each with their own special message to help inspire and educate young people about food and healthy lifestyles.
It’s interesting how many school caterers have moved away from their mascots, but is this the right call? Do mascots still have a part to play in your marketing strategy?
Often in marketing we turn and look at what the big brands are doing as they have the teams and budgets large enough to get their campaigns truly noticed and in the national spotlight.
In the high street, and from what I see from my own children, I think mascots are as popular as ever. You only need to see how crazy everyone went for the Aldi mascot during Christmas 2019. The Aldi advert, featuring is festive brand mascot Kevin the Carrot, as well as villain Russell Sprout, was crowned the most effective festive marketing campaign of the season, according to data from Kantar shared exclusively with Marketing Week.
Kevin has become a toy that’s been seriously in demand with parents queuing to get hold of him and he’s even on display in the Museum of Brands in London. Giveaways of branded items is one of the oldest marketing techniques in the book and one that no amount of digital technology will change.
Five benefits of a school meals mascot
• A mascot will provide you with a face of your school meals service and give you a brand that pupils will easily recognise. I’ll never forget the day my eldest daughter came home in reception, proudly wearing her Herbie the Carrot sticker for having a clean plate. This was almost 30 years after Herbie was invented and now, he’s created a sense of nostalgia amongst my generation, as our children talk about him too.
• You can create merchandise that will get children and parents talking about school meals. Over the years, I’ve seen everything from wall height charts to frisbees to mugs with school meal characters on. When children earn or win these items it gives a reason for parents to learn more about the school meals service.
• Many high street brands are using cartoons to create a buzz about their brand, and you need to be keeping up with the trends of the place’s children visit with their families.
• If you have a school meals mascot it can provide many additional PR opportunities. Those who have a costume created often get invited to local fayres, sports days, carnivals, school theme days and much more. It’s a simple way to get your service in the spotlight.
• One of the reasons our dad loved mascots so much is they made school meals fun. A school lunch provides so many life lessons from social skills to the right food choices but also allows memories to be made. Herbie is the reason so many people who grew up in North Yorkshire remember their school meals. We all loved the days in which Herbie came to visit.
Is your school meals mascot still going strong? We’d love to hear about them and how you use them in your marketing activity. Share your thoughts via [email protected] or tweet @digitalblonde.