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"Characters get under the skin, invading thoughts, memories and dreams"
An Interview With Hatem Aly
Character Topic: Characters In Advertising
In this issue:
Characters in advertising were the subject of a recent discussion in the Characters Engage Linkedin group.
Early on in the discussion, an American Graphic Designer thought that licensed characters such as "Garfield" or "The Peanuts" could trigger childhood memories, making it easier for advertisers to engage their customers.
A European IP Developer agreed, saying that characters which are well established with the audience lend themselves to licensing for advertising, because they already have traction with the demographic the advertiser wants to target.
According to an American Studio Artist and Designer, it is important how a character relates to the company it is associated with. She also thought that its appeal has a significant effect on how memorable a character can become.
Picking up on her first point, the IP Developer added that it also important how characters relate to the product/s they are meant to advertise.
An American Creative Director and Designer then said that characters are particularly effective if the intended consumer can identify with them, because it personalizes their relationship with aspects of brands, goods or services, that might otherwise be difficult to relate to on an emotional level.
A Director of Motion Graphics agreed, saying that we relate to characters as if they were people, rather than corporations or products.
An Indian Chief Creative Officer added that, for a whole number of reasons, characters are a particularly attractive choice as brand promoters.
They are easy to relate to for consumers, and they can maintain such a personal connection on a long term basis, when needed. Evergreen advertising characters even have the ability to engage successive generations. They manage to engage children, who in turn end up introducing these characters to their own children.
Using characters is also a more reliable option than endorsements by star actors, singers, sports personalities or any other celebrity, not to mention that, apart from the costs involved in creating, aquiring, or licensing a character, they do not need to be paid.
Then an Animation Director from the Phillipines stressed the importance of characters for brand and identity recall. Their high recognition value makes them a good option for brands hoping to revitalize their image.
Characters seem a natural fit for brands targeting families, but less engaging brands in the technology or insurance sectors, for example, can also benefit from their ability to establish a personal connection with consumers, he said, echoeing a point that had been made earlier in the discussion.
An American Design and Previz 3D Modeler stressed this point further by stating that selling anything is about relating to potential buyers. If an ad, featuring a character, manages to engage a customer, the first hurdle to a sale has been overcome.
In summary an Executive Producer from Germany eloquently stated that characters add emotional appeal and have the ability to differentiate messages. They capture attention, draw people in, and eliminate boundaries.
Characters create opportunities for identification and are great for building strong brand images. Their memorable appearance can initiate associative thought patterns, and they have a high entertainment and infotainment value. Characters are fun, and if they are skillfully developed and designed, they can be powerful and attractive advertising tools.
Let us know what your thoughts are, by joining the conversation... here.
CE: Where are you from, and how did you end up becoming an illustrator?
HA: I am from Cairo, Egypt. I have been drawing since I can remember and eventually, after High School, I studied Fine Arts with little to no idea of how I was going to earn a living. But I was driven by storytelling, narrative illustration and comics. I made friends in the industry and soon got involved professionally.
CE: What kind of publications and publishers do you work for, and which demographics do you cover?
HA: I usually work on children's books and magazines, and on editorial illustrations and comics for all age groups. Occasionally I also storyboard and illustrate for advertising.
As a result, my list of clients is quite diverse and includes: MTV World, Chirp Magazine, Kalimat Publishing, Rubicon Publishing, Oxford University Press, Kalliope Audiobooks, Hachette Antoine, Dar Al Alam Arabi, Majid Magazine, and Basim Magazine, to name but a few.
CE: Your work for pre-school readers is charming. Is this a demographic you particularly enjoy working for?
HA: Thanks, yes! I find that I can have fun with it while being expressive and imaginative at the same time.
I like to pay tribute to childhood by creating what I would have loved to look at and read as a child.
CE: What are you working on at the moment? Is there something our readers can look out for?
HA: I am working on several projects including an educational book through Hachette Antoine, a cover and a weekly comic for Majid Magazine, and an app that's due out shortly.
I recently finished a comic for MTV World, which is featured on the website of a series called RebelMusic at rebelmusic.com. You can see the comic here:
Please also check out Hatem's blog and website here:
CE: You are now based in Canada. How did you end up there?
HA: My wonderful wife is Canadian, so you could say I ended up in Canada because of love. I've been in Canada since July of 2007, and I've been making new professional connections, while keeping my original network.