How to Use Mascots At your Next Event

Everything You Need to Know About Having a Mascot at Your Event

Mascots- Adelante Live Blog

Admit it, the above photos made you smile. Of course they did – mascots are designed to delight us, capture our attention, and make us want to come closer.  When used effectively, they are great promotional tools.

Recently I interviewed Huguette Charles, who has worked as a mascot and costumed character for over twelve years. All the pictures above are of her in costume.  She shared a few tips to ensure mascots are kept safe and used effectively as a marketing tool.

  1. Her number one rule is: Mascots don’t speak.  So it is important to show personality and communicate by using big hand gestures, dancing around, and moving your head theatrically. According to Charles, “Every gesture should be over the top.”
  2. Mascots should always be accompanied by a handler. Since mascots are silent; the handler is responsible for corralling people, keeping the crowd managed and letting the crowd know when it is time for the mascot’s break, along with ensuring the mascot’s safety. For some reason teenagers and sadly even adults sometimes find it fun to hit mascots from behind.
  3. Alcohol and mascots don’t mix.  Charles observed that at events where participants have been drinking all day, guests are more likely to grab and punch the mascots.
  4. If your brand has a mascot- use it! If a brand has a mascot they should incorporate it into all their marketing events. Foot traffic is not always guaranteed, but if you have a mascot at the event footprint, your promotion will definitely get much more attention.
  5. Break schedules for the mascot should be flexible. Charles says one of her biggest pet peeves is working hard to gather an interested crowd only to have her handler tell the crowd it is time for her break. “I like to take my breaks not according to a set schedule since I feed off the energy of the people. So if I’ve worked hard to create a big crowd, I’d rather take a break when the crowd thins out.”

Keeping the above tips in mind will help maximize a mascot’s presence at your next event.

 

For more information about how a costume character can positively impact your next event, please email Janice Rodriguez.

Shalina Rankin Shalina Rankin, writer, trade show host, event and marketing specialist and owner of Baubles At Your Feet may be contacted at ShalinaPresents@facebook.com for opportunities, comments and topic suggestions.

Keep Your Feet and Legs in Standing Order

In an industry where looks matter, most of us take great care of our appearance. Facials, teeth whitening, visits to the dermatologists and make up counter, are often standard.  Good looks will definitely get you promotional jobs but being able to stand on your feet all day at a tradeshow while maintaining a smile or walk many blocks giving away samples without complaint is what ensures that a job has been done well.  Achy lower backs and swollen feet can quickly turn a fun job into a miserable one.  Feet and knees are similar to our faces in that they benefit from preventative care.  We ladies are encouraged to use eye cream well before that tender under eye starts wrinkling, likewise we should take care with our feet before they give us problems.

Unless you want to be banished to a cubicle and a 9 to 5 job, in order to work promotions and events, it is imperative that you can stand for long hours with ease whether you are 22, 32 or 42. Below are my top tips for enduring long stretches on your feet.

1. Flat shoes feel good but may not be so good.

According to Dr. Oz and most podiatrists, shoes should have a heel of at least 1”. Not all flats are made the same. Flats are typically thought to be more comfortable than heels, however very flat shoes are bad for your arches and knees. If you are flat footed, flat shoes will be very comfortable however wearing them constantly will take its toll on your lower back, ankles, and knees. Also your arches may become even flatter. If you have high arches the lack of arch support can cause too much strain on the rest of your foot.  It is best to find flat shoes that have at least some arch support in the shoe. These are usually more expensive than other flat shoes but well worth the additional money.

Also, inexpensive arch supports may be found at the drugstore, making it easy to make any shoe more supportive. I especially recommend adding arch support inserts if a promotion uniform consists of Converse All Star shoes.  I love their classic All-American look but they offer no arch or heel support nor any shock absorbency.  I recently worked an outdoor event and it was a little chilly for the end of September. The first day I wore extremely comfortable ballet flats that provided little arch support; my colleague wore Converse All Stars. By the end of the day both of us were absolutely freezing even though it wasn’t that cold out and my knees hurt. Why?  Because our thin, flat, shoes provided no buffer from the cold that was leaching up through the concrete. The next day I wore my Dansko Mary Jane flats. Though also flat, they provided a thick layer of rubber on the soles, along with arch support which prevented the cold from permeating my shoes and feet.

2. Compression hosiery and socks are worth the expense.

Wearing compression hosiery has been the norm for flight attendants and nurses for years but I know very few promotional models who wear them. They can make a huge difference in how your legs feel after a long day on your feet.  Compression stockings are tightest at the ankles and gradually become less constrictive towards the knees and thighs. This causes more blood to return to the heart and prevents blood from pooling in the feet. Increased circulation also helps prevent legs from feeling achy, tired and swollen.

3. Epsom salt soaks are inexpensive and effective.

Grandmas have long recommended Epsom salts as a remedy for all sorts of ails.   Its chemical makeup, magnesium sulfate, is perfect for soaking in since it is easily absorbed through the skin. While soaking in an Epsom salt bath, magnesium ions are absorbed by the body.  Those ions interfere with the nervous systems pain receptors.  The salts help not only to mask the pain but also reduce pains by: relaxing muscles, drawing toxins out of the body and reducing swelling.  Best of all it cost less than a Starbucks coffee: a pound of Epsom salts can typically be found at any drug store for less than $2.50.

 4. Elevate those legs.

Elevating legs for twenty minutes after a long shift can aid in lower limb circulation and help reduce swelling. Plus you’ve been working all day; you deserve to put your feet up.

While none of these steps may be necessary for a short promotion, they make a world of difference if you are booked for a ten day tradeshow or week long street team promotion. Take care of yourself and your feet!

Shalina Rankin, brand ambassador, guest blogger Shalina Rankin, writer, trade show host, event and marketing specialist and owner of Baubles At Your Feet  may be contacted at  ShalinaPresents@facebook.com for opportunities, comments and topic suggestions.

In Defense of Booth Babes

Recently one of my LinkedIn Groups had a lively discussion under the thread, “Is it Finally Time to Ban the Booth Babe?”. Well that’s harsh I thought. For one, I can think of a better name than the derogatory “booth babe”.  Booth Hostess, Tradeshow Host, Product Specialist, Narrator, perhaps? All are roles commonly found on the tradeshow floor.  All serve their purpose so why would anyone want to ban them?!

“Babe” of course denotes someone, usually: female, very attractive, and fairly young who has been planted on the tradeshow floor with no knowledge of the industry and whose sole purpose is to attract visitors by being… attractive.  It also infers that being a booth babe requires no particular skill set.  While most clients and visitors would readily agree that a Product Specialist, a person who has been thoroughly trained on a line of products and can answer most prospective customers’ questions with a degree of confidence and certitude, are valuable. They, much like a Narrator who can flawlessly deliver a marketing presentation to an audience from memory or an ear prompter, are typically very well compensated.  However some may balk at the high rates a so called “booth babe” also receives.

However the “booth babe” also earns her keep.  She stands all day in in high heels on thinly carpeted concrete tradeshow floor with a smile that rarely ever falters. She deftly and graciously deflects unwanted romantic advances from visitors.  If it is a selling tradeshow floor she democratically passes off qualified prospects to the sales team making sure leads are evenly distributed as not to sow discord among the sales team.  She seamlessly blends in with the full time staff.  If they are gregarious, outgoing and aggressive when pursuing sales lead she follows suit. If they adopt a reserved non-selling tone she adapts accordingly. She is engaging and entertaining, facilitating conversation with potential customers while making sure not to be drawn into too long of a conversation so as not to ignore others who may have a question.  In short “Booth Babes” should not be banned; they should be appreciated.*

 

*Clearly I am biased as I spent many years on tradeshow floors as a Product Specialist, Narrator and so called “Booth Babe”

 

Shalina Rankin      Shalina Rankin, writer, trade show host, event and marketing specialist and owner of Baubles At Your Feet  may be contacted at  ShalinaPresents@facebook.com for opportunities, comments and topic suggestions.

 

Three Reasons Why It Seems Like Your Agency Has Lost Your Number

1. You Have a Reputation of Being Late.  In this profession being late is tantamount to committing a cardinal sin. Thou must not be late!  And if for some reason you are late; you should call or text the onsite manager before you are actually late to let them know that you are running behind and when they should expect you.  Admittedly I’ve had to do this once or twice. It has always worked out to my benefit. By calling before you are actually late it prevents the onsite manager from wondering if they have a no show on their hands and if backups need to be called. It also shows responsibility, respect for others’ time, and that you are not the type to try to sneak in late hoping that no one has noticed.

2. You are overheard bad mouthing the Client, Product, Agency, and/ or Event Management.  Engaging in that type of behavior is always in bad taste.  At some point we all have been involved in a program that was disorganized and poorly managed.   Complaining about it to anyone who will listen is tempting; however do your best to refrain from this. Yes it feels good to vent at times, but you never know who is listening and who is friends with whom. This can be a competitive industry and you don’t want to lose out on bookings because word got back to an agency that you had a negative attitude and were complaining about the program.  If the client happens to be onsite and overhears it, count on never working for that booking agency again.

3. You don’t look like your pictures. You must look like your pictures. An agency cannot send you to a casting call or promotion in good faith if you’ve gained or lost twenty pounds, you’ve cut your hair, you’ve grown your hair, you’ve dyed your hair and your pictures do not reflect these changes. Drastic appearance changes require picture updates. With promotional modeling opportunities the rules are not as strict but you should still do your best to regularly update your photos.

Don’t fall victim to any of the above bad behaviors and you will be sure to remain in your agency’s good graces.

Shalina Rankin      Shalina Rankin, writer, trade show host, event and marketing specialist and owner of Baubles At Your Feet  may be contacted at  ShalinaPresents@facebook.com for opportunities, comments and topic suggestions.

 

When the Freebies Aren’t Flying

We’ve all been there; a client has assigned us thousands and thousands of premiums -freebies – to give away in an afternoon. It should be a cinch; we’re not Children’s International asking for money, nor a market research company demanding precious time and information. We are offering a gift that they’re sure to like.  But person after person is giving us a smug no. Even the most talented promotional teams can find it difficult to give away flyers and coupons for obscure brands but when high value items aren’t moving; it’s clear that there is a larger force at play.

We are all familiar with the concept of perceived value as opposed to actual value and the old adage that “people are like sheep.”  When giving items away on the street those concepts can work against us. Many people will assume that if you are giving it away; it isn’t that valuable and not worth the time to stop and investigate. An example of this happening was during a promotion I worked two years ago in Chicago. Nescafé was competing heavily against Starbucks and their new single serve instant coffee packets. We were responsible for giving away what seemed like millions of Taster Choice variety packs. Each pack had 5 flavors of single serve coffee packets. Nescafé is a world renowned coffee brand. Honestly the coffee was delicious. This truly was a premium give away. And like most clients dictate, the rule was to distribute only one sample per person.

We needed thousands of people to happily take our premiums. The most obvious choice is Union Station, one of the busiest train stations in the country. But these commuters are used to the game; several times a week some company is trying to foist a coupon, flyer, or useless tchotchke on them. They are in a hurry trying to get to or from work and they DO NOT CARE about your handout.  It takes them a nanosecond to decide if they are going to say yes or no. When a train arrives they come rushing up the stairs in droves.  If all goes well you can distribute hundreds of premiums in a matter of minutes, but often if one person declines then all the people around them decline. The more “no’s” you get in a row, the more likely all the people behind them will also say no.

This is sheep thinking on display. You can almost see the cartoon bubble above their head: “If the person in front of me doesn’t want it, it must be no good and I don’t want it either. I can scurry on.” I’ve learned the easiest way to stop this spiral is to step back and put your items back in your bag. Adopt the air that this giveaway isn’t for everyone. It’s exclusive and if it is offered, it is because you have been deemed special. Look about ten paces in front of you, find someone to make eye contact with, smile and if you get a sense that they will accept the premium, offer it to them.  Hopefully they will say yes. If they do, just like that, sheep think will be adjusted to work in your favor and everyone around and behind them also wants what you offered exclusively to them.

Shalina Rankin      Shalina Rankin, writer, trade show host, event and marketing specialist and owner of Baubles At Your Feet  may be contacted at  ShalinaPresents@facebook.com for opportunities, comments and topic suggestions.