Friday, June 11, 2010

More Sixes, More Fun

This season Six Flags not only brought back the popular icon Mr. Six after a few years’ hiatus, but the company added a sidekick to ramp up the fun. Little Six—the “Robin” to Mr. Six’s “Batman”—now joins Mr. Six on the quest to find the most fun they can in Six Flags’ updated “More Flags, More Fun” campaign. FUNWORLD caught up with Jessica Sokolowski, senior director of advertising with Six Flags, to discuss the evolution of the Mr. Six campaign and why it’s so popular.

What inspired Six Flags to bring Mr. Six back after the hiatus?
A couple of things lead us to the decision to bring Mr. Six back. First we know Mr. Six is beloved by many and in a down economy we wanted t lean into the familiar. Second, it became apparent to us that there was still a demand for Mr. Six after conducting focus groups for our “More Flags. More Fun” campaign across the country. All but two groups asked, unaided, that we bring him back.

Where did the idea for a miniature sidekick come from, and what do you want him to accomplish?
There’s always been questions about Mr. Six—where he came from, what does he do in the offseason, does he have a family? We thought it would be a great way to share a little more about Mr. Six and evolve the campaign overall by introducing a sidekick. He’s not his son or grandson or brother. They’re kind of like the superheroes of fun; Mr. Six is to Batman as Little Six is to Robin. They’re the dynamic duo of thrills.

From a creative perspective, what was involved in the process of bringing Little Six into the fold?
We wanted to add to the mystique behind Mr. Six and evolve the campaign by introducing a companion. Since Mr. Six represents the spirit of Six Flags, we wanted to bring in a character that represents the spirit, or the kid, in all of us. In a brainstorm, we had an epiphany to bring the “kid in all of us” to life via a sidekick for Mr. Six—Little Six.

What has been the overall response from your customers?
All in all, the response has been positive. People really respond to Mr. Six, and all indicators are that the campaign continues to break through. What’s interesting about Mr. Six is, [people] either love him or they’re not sure about him. It’s the same way with Little Six. The best thing for us is, regardless, if people have an opinion about it, he always starts a conversation, and people love talking about him. That works for us. If you don’t like him that’s OK, at least you have a point of view about him.

How has the power of viral marketing and social media fueled the interest in the new campaign?
We’ve engaged in a lot of activity on the viral and social media front, from viral videos about Little Six to flash mobs at the CNN Center with Mr. and Little Six. It’s been a fun space to work in with these characters.
But one noteworthy effort was when we put them both on The Today Show. We walked them into the audience and when Al [Roker] saw Mr. Six and Little Six, he made a big fuss, and they played the music, and Meredith [Vieira] did the dance. We posted that on our Facebook page, and on the “Today” show, it ended up being the viewers’ favorite moment of the week. Once they did that, [the characters’] approval ratings soared.

What is the key to Mr. Six's—and, by extension, his sidekick's—popularity?
Mr. Six—there’s something about him. He seems to appeal to everyone: families, parents, kids, and even teens. It’s a rarity to find something that a teenager and a mom would both like.

What has the Mr. Six campaign done for Six Flags as a whole?
We originally brought him to market in 2004 and almost immediately he became part of pop culture. He’s been on “Good Morning America,” David Letterman, “The Daily Show,” “Saturday Night Live.” Beyond that, for Six Flags, Mr. Six is an extension of the Six Flags brand. He personifies the Six Flags experience and makes you feel more alive, like that incredible feeling you get on that first drop of a coaster, or that big splash into a wave pool, or when you feed a giraffe up close. The energy and the excitement he brings remind you how amazing a day at Six Flags is over anything else.

What’s in store for the characters in the future?
We’re always looking for ways to evolve the campaign and evolve his role. That’s TBD, but certainly worth watching. Keep your eyes open to see what’s coming next with Mr. Six.

View the new “More Flags, More Fun” campaign here.

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