Following the success of Geneseo’s food truck, aptly named the Chowhound, Lee Maas and Stu Pitts, cofounders of the Awesome Animals creative marketing firm, have decided to follow their canine mascot with a new line of characters for each of the school’s food venues.
Last year, Expensive Food for Students commissioned Maas and Pitts to design a theme and publicity campaign for the new food truck. In response to the rising demand from students for the Chowhound’s food, it hired the business partners once more.
“We are in a unique situation in that we have created a character that is universally considered the coolest person ever, which is great,” said Maas. “But how do you top it?”
To answer this question, the team reflected on what made the Chowhound character so successful.
“For the Chowhound, we tried to integrate cool things and make them into a dog,” said Pitts. “So for the rest of the campus, what we’re planning on doing is integrating more cool things and making them into other animals.”
Pitts went on to describe a brand-new string of characters marketed toward students approved by EFS, which includes a burly quarterback rhinoceros for Mary Jemison Dining Hall and a multicultural panda bear for Fusion Market. Books & Bytes will display a teenage lioness that goes to classes during the day, sings in a pop-rock band during the evening and also fights crime as a ninja-cyborg vigilante weekend nights.
“I’m really excited about Southside Cafe,” said Maas. “We’re going to have the skateboarding Chewlicious Cheetah printed on every wall, food package and napkin dispenser.”
“Then, we decided that if a skateboard was cool, it would be twice as cool if we gave him two skateboards,” said Pitts. “So now he uses at a time.”
Plans are also underway for a rotation of costumed mascots that give out free samples and offer hugs and autographs. Trevon the Tech-Savvy Tiger, who will rotate among venues, can send souvenir photos directly to customers’ cell phones and social networking sites.
“We know AOL and MySpace are really huge right now, so we’re making accounts for all of our characters,” said Pitts. “And Craigslist seems to have a neat section for getting together with new people, so we’re going to use that to let everyone know when and where to find our mascots.”
Maas and Pitts also commented on how big a role they believe they have played in the Chowhound truck’s popularity relative to its food quality.
“Parking a truck full of deep-fried meat 15 yards away from a college dorm complex full of overworked and tipsy students at midnight on Saturday after all other sources of food have closed gets you nowhere,” said Pitts. “It’s the badass dog that keeps them coming back.”
Concerning their inspiration, both men simultaneously said, “Chester Cheetah and Joe Camel.”