New research from IPSOS MORI commissioned by born licensing has revealed that when given the choice between seeing a fictional character, celebrity, musician, or sports star, 37 per cent of people want the character.
Interesting, despite the love people have for a fictional character, the research also found that less than 1 per cent of Australian and NZ ads shown in 2020 had one.
Which is a shame, when you consider the success of this Halloween campaign by Born Licensing for Uber in the US. This Halloween, some very lucky travellers in the US would have taken a ride in one of three famous Ubers.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Patty Wagon, Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Party Wagon were picking up some happy party go-ers for a surprise at the end of their night.
Now while this sounds great, it’s pretty rare that one of our favourite fictional characters pops up in an ad these days, let alone an Uber ride, even though most people want them to.
So what the hell is going on?
After a review of over 500 Aussie and New Zealander ads, IPSOS MORI found out that you are 25 times more likely to see a sports star, celebrity, or musician than a fictional character.
This happens even though fictional characters are likelier to capture audiences’ attention than their real-life counterparts.
The IPSOS MORI research found that James Bond was more charming than Daniel Craig. Wonder Woman was more alluring than Gal Gadot. Harry Potter was more enchanting than Daniel Radcliffe.
Even Shrek was more enticing than Mike Myers.
And it wasn’t just the fictional character and their real-life counterparts where we saw our favourite movie stars triumph.
61 per cent of those surveyed say they would prefer to see fictional characters they know from movies and TV than brand characters like the Michelin Man or Ronald McDonald. What really begs the question is why?
Why do we love Luke Skywalker more than Mark Hamill, or Christiano Ronaldo, or even Taylor Swift?
According to owner and director of Born Licensing, David Born, said: “Fictional characters can be a powerful tool for advertisers.”
“They can instantly bring with them broad awareness, a loyal fan-base and positive attributes to align with a brand. They have the ability to tap into a range of emotions and memories.
“They can also pose a smaller risk than celebrities, as they’re much less likely to be associated with any scandals that could negatively impact a brand.”
So why don’t we see more fictional characters? Well, there’s a couple of reasons, namely the licensing costs and issues with script production.
Senior licensing executive at Born Licensing, Amber Cheung said: “Licensing fees are considered to be too expensive – or are at least perceived as being too expensive.”
“Cost is clearly a common barrier. It is true that certain properties come with very high license fees which, when factoring additional talent fees or customised animation into production too, can significantly eat into production budgets.
“It should be noted however, that high profile fictional characters generally demand a lower fee than high profile celebrities.”
“The second most common reason why scripts with fictional characters didn’t move forward, cited by both creatives and producers, was that the client chose a different script.”
Whether we see a transformation with special guests in advertisements, or things continue down the same path we’re going is a mystery, but I’d be curious to see if we spot the Cookie Monster in an Oreos commercial anytime soon.
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