Meet Chip—Marketer—and Mascot—Extraordinaire

Once John Perkins, president of Genuine Auto Glass in Seattle, Wash., decided he wanted to create a company mascot, he shared his idea with vice president/general manager Jeff Crane. Crane pulled out a napkin, drew an original draft and sent it to his representative at Seattle’s KVI radio, where an artist fully developed and designed the figure, bringing his vision to life. Today, the trademarked character is dubbed ‘Chip’ and he’s much more than a mascot—he’s a key marketing tool.

Chip, a digital cartoon character, has been reverberating throughout Seattle for three years, sounding off in advertisements on several radio stations. To be clear, Chip is not to be mistaken for a physical mascot. His ‘hang outs’ are purely virtual.

“One time I had a [listener] hear my first Chip ad,” Crane says. “She went to her computer when she got home that night, and emailed me and told me that my Chip ad was the most annoying thing she’s ever heard. I immediately forwarded that to the ad department at the radio station and congratulated them on a victory. Because a person is never going to forget Genuine Auto Glass now—good or bad. She might not ever use us because the ad was annoying, but she’s most certainly not going to forget us.”

Chip appeared in his first radio contest last month, gracing 710 ESPN Seattle’s airwaves. Genuine partnered with the Seattle station to give five listeners a chance to win a $250 VISA gift card. The rules were simple: listen to 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Four-Down Territory” segment during the “Jake & Stacy” Show the week of June 14-18. Each day, Jake shared code words or a set of code words that gave clues as to where Chip was hanging out that day. Listeners could enter into the daily drawing by submitting their guesses in a form on the contest page.

“For us, it’s just for name recognition,” Crane says. “We’re not trying to change the world with it, but we’ve been reasonably successful at this business. I’ve been doing this for 46 years.”

The first contest was such a hit that Genuine extended Chip’s stay on 710 ESPN Seattle with The Genuine Auto Glass Summer Sweepstakes. The contest gives nine listeners a chance to win a $500 VISA gift card every Friday through September 3.

“It’s just about reaching people, and that’s all we’re trying to do,” Crane says. “. . . We picked the local sports radio station to crossover. Because we’ve been on talk radio and wanted to bring Chip over to a different genre and thought it would fit really well with the sports radio audience.”

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