This study aims to investigate what the crucial elements are when it comes to using a mascot to brand a destination. This study applies the proposed framework of “mascot usage for destination branding” to two mascot cases, namely, Kumamon and Sukjai. In particular, the Kumamon mascot is first investigated, looking at how it is used to promote Kumamoto, one of the key cities in Kyushu, Japan. Sukjai, another mascot, is then analysed in a similar light. The dominant factors that lead to the success of Kumamon mascot are analysed on the case of Sukjai mascot. The disparity between the two mascot cases allows for a better understanding of the dimensions and practices or lack thereof, that can occur in mascot creation and implementation.
A qualitative methodology is applied, and thematic and content analyses are applied to the three data sources, namely, secondary data collection from different data sources in the English and Japanese languages; researcher onsite observation in Kumamoto; and an in-depth interview with purposive sampling experts.
The findings indicate that according to the proposed framework, Kumamon has shown all three elements of the framework, namely, promoting destination identity and personality, creating differentiation for the location and having strong stakeholder involvement. On the other hand, these elements were found not to be as strong in the Sukjai case. The findings from the case comparison determine several underlining factors, including the national culture, which can help or hinder in laying the groundwork for the successful application of a mascot in destination branding.
This study complements the previous literature on mascot branding and elaborates on the framework of mascot usage for destination branding based on a combination of the three proposed elements.
Wattanacharoensil, W., Kantamara, S. and Muangasame, K. (2021), "An investigation of the Kumamon and Sukjai mascots on destination branding", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 201-221. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPMD-11-2019-0095
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