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He-Man and Skeletor, Yoda from Star Wars, The Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants. What do these famous characters have in common? They’ve all featured in advertisements for a variety of brands such as Vodafone, Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

The increase of catch up TV, ad free subscription services such as Netflix combined with the rise of ad blockers, means advertisers are under more pressure than ever before to release advertising that consumers want to engage with, talk about and share with others. Using well-known characters can be a great way to achieve cut-through and differentiation.

This paper explores the use of characters in advertising campaigns, why they are effective, how consumers respond, how deals are generally structured, and the process involved.