Monday 14 October 2013

M Appeal

A corporate mascot is a difficult thing to pull off.  Get it right, and you have an instantly recognisable, beloved representative of your company like Ronald McDonald:

Get it wrong, and you end up with an abomination summoned up from the very depths of Satan's armpit, like their first attempt at Ronald McDonald:

There's a very fine line between "cute and loveable" and "dead eyed horror".  Merseyrail have got by fine with a very simple corporate logo, but for some reason, their latest campaign has introduced a new character for us all to grasp to our collective bosoms.

I'm not actually against the idea of a fluffy, cuddly character to bring a bit of humanity to the cold world of public transport.  I don't think that a CGI anthropomorphic letter M is necessarily the way to go.   The character - who I will christen "EMma", because these things always have a name like that and the eyelashes point to a female - has suddenly sprung up all over the place on posters and leaflets telling passengers how great Merseyrail is.

I'm not keen.  Part of this is just based on aesthetics: they're going for a cute fluffy Muppet-type character, but you need very good CGI to do decent fur.  You need to be Pixar, basically.  It means that Emma looks a bit like she's been made out of a pedestal mat, and a green one at that.  It's not just me, is it?  She looks green to everyone else?

And she's floating, which is a bit weird.  In fact, it looks like she's sneaking up on that couple above - you've got the old Star Wars prequel problem of people acting against something that's not there.  Though Emma is obviously far more palatable than Jar-Jar Binks (as is dysentery).

My hope is that she'll be broken out in a physical form - perhaps cuddly plush Emmas on sale in the M to Go shops?  Emma key rings?  Some poor actor fresh from LIPA squeezed into a costume to wave at schoolchildren?  The possibilities could be endless.  And then you'd be able to make her look a bit less like a stomped down hall rug, all touchable and furry, and her eyes would seem a bit less dead and staring.

It certainly seems we've got her for the long run, so they need to start making full use of her.  In fact, we could shoehorn her into my previously mooted animated series for CBeebies about the stations of Merseyrail; get in touch, Maaaaaaarten.  We could make MILLIONS.

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