Peperami’s Animal mascot has returned to TV screens this week, but beneath the familiar animation lies a slightly altered personality, with brand owner Jack Link's having purposefully created a more ‘grown up’ version removed from the 90s lad culture of his past.
The mascot is currently appearing in two TVCs as part of a partnership promoting new rides from Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments. He's also popping up in the theme park brand's ‘Wussometer’ app, which allows friends to share Animal-fronted ‘screamer’ videos with their friends, and rank who’s the biggest ‘total wuss’ in the group via their smartphones’ accelerometer.
The focus on excitement, adventure and fearlessness is a deliberate strategy to move the character away from his roots as an entirely disruptive, anarchic character in the 1990s.
Edith Koek, senior brand manager for Peperami, discovered in research that the mascot still resonates most with “blokes” who grew up alongside the character in 20th century’s final decade. For 2018, Animal has also “grown up” – in order to cater to both a younger generation less tolerant of 90s culture, and original fans of the brand whose sense of humour has also developed away from innuendo and macho prevalence.
“He’s growing up a bit,” Koek told The Drum. “He used to be really disruptive and now he’s a bit more conscious of what he’s doing.”
Creative agency Atomic was selected to lead on Animal’s big comeback (he last appeared on screens in early 2017). The shop’s creative partner, Guy Bradbury, explained the Merlin partnership was a nifty way to reintroduce this more mature brand mascot before a bigger Peperami campaign goes live later in the year.
“There was a great fit with Merlin because they talk about ‘good fear’,” he explained. “It allowed us to have that anarchic behaviour without playing the ‘lad’ joke vibe that was there in the 90s. We’re trying to avoid going there. We pitched him as the friend in the group who encourages you to get stuck into life and walk towards your fear, rather than the one that’s making the innuendo gags.”
Animal has been given a slightly new look too. His last campaign saw him appear entirely in CGI form; now, he’s a mix of stop-motion and computer graphics in order to give audiences a bigger hit of authentic 90s nostalgia. Ade Edmonsonhasn’t returned as the voiceover (that job has gone to comedian Adam Fields), however Bradbury believes the tones of a celebrity are no longer needed for the character to resonate.
“Animal for us is the brand – he’s the personality,” he said. “He is the character rather than this famous name behind it. You can’t separate Peperami from Animal.”
It’s for this reason that binning Animal for an entirely new marketing strategy is “simply not possible” for Koek and her team at Peperami.
“We would be throwing away such heritage,” she said.