Visiting Japan, it is difficult to miss the proliferation of mascots that seem to be everywhere. A recent research team concluded that there are at least 42 different police mascots in Japan, some nationally recognized and others only known in their specific prefectures and local towns.
The Japanese government has mascots for other municipal services as well, including the fire department and defense forces.
There is a method to this madness as mascots are not intimidating and the police find them to be highly effective when trying to make the public aware of certain important issues.
Some of the topics initiated by the mascot campaign designed to increase public awareness include:
• Bank Transfer Fraud
• Traffic Safety
• Crime Prevention
• Pick Pocketing
• Purse Snatching
The mascots are particularly helpful when the police need to distribute fliers. People who see them are curious as to who they are and what they are doing and they often approach, whereas, usually a police officer is more or less ignored by the Japanese populace.
The police feel that even if the fliers are thrown away, they will still serve an important purpose because there are those who may remember the names of the mascots, whose names are puns related to the message they are attempting to promote.
Traffic safety and purse snatching relate more to children and the general population, but elderly people suffer greatly from bank fraud scams.
In an effort to address this, many Japanese ATM machines have posters with mascots warning about these scams. The mascots often travel to post offices and banks to spread the word about these terrible crimes that rob senior citizens of their life savings.
Do we need more mascots in this world?
Ask Smokey the Bear about the decrease in forest fires or if you can find her, Chiquita Banana about the importance of potassium in our diets.
If you get an answer, maybe we do need them and if you don’t, maybe we still do.
What do YOU think about this?