Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an MLB Kid’s Opening Day sponsored by one of our clients. Looking back at the more than 1,600 images the team captured of excited kids and employee volunteers, Paws, the larger-than-life home team mascot, was by far the star of the day.
That got me thinking about why I, as an adult, am so enamored by mascots. My first thought was – my alma mater doesn’t have a mascot – maybe I’m trying to fill that void in my life. (There are hundreds of answers to the question “What exactly is a Hoosier?” and none of them is “a mascot at sporting events.”) On further contemplation, that’s not why I love Paws, Benny the Bull and all their animated character friends running around Florida theme parks.
Mascots are silent. They’re not allowed to speak. And yet, they move people. They can get kids excited about doing push-ups and jumping jacks, elevate the volume of a cheering crowd to energize a struggling team, and I would argue even build brand loyalty among the tiniest of fans too young to understand the rules of baseball or know who number 35 is on the field. So, what does this mean to those of us who communicate for a living?
No, I’m not saying every brand needs a mascot. I do, however, believe we can all learn a few lessons from Paws and his silent, furry friends on how to use our body language and non-verbal communication:
1. Smile. You can’t see the smile of the hot, sweaty kid inside the costume, but you know it’s there. I smile when I craft social media customer service responses on touchy subjects or when I’m providing difficult counsel to a client by phone. They can’t see you, but they know it’s there. That positive energy shines through.
2. Connect. Mascots may touch more than is appropriate in our line of work – but the important thing is to connect through a handshake, eye contact or posture that says “You are important and I am paying attention to you.”
3. Be animated. It’s ok to stand up to present an idea or use facial expressions and hand movements to get your point across. Show not only with your voice that you’re excited about what you’re saying and you believe it. The other people in the room will believe you.
Who’s your favorite mascot? What else can we learn from them?