Treasurer hopes rapping mascot will boost college savings

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Treasurer Lynn Fitch on Monday introduced the world to Echo the Mockingbird, a rapping mascot who stars in his own marketing campaign.

The campaign includes a web ad, released Monday morning, features Echo rapping about the state’s college-savings program in a forest setting. At the end of the jingle, Treasurer Lynn Fitch pulls binoculars from her face and states, “That’s why my newest hobby is bird-watching.”

The video, a version of a television ad that will air in coming weeks, cost “about $50,000,” which came out of the treasurer’s $250,000 marketing budget, said Michelle Williams, chief of staff for Fitch. The Echo mascot costume cost $4,508 and, Fitch hopes, will help attract new enrollees to the state’s college savings plans.

“In our continuing efforts to engage more families, particularly young ones, in saving for their children’s education, College Savings Mississippi has engaged the help of a mascot,” Fitch said in a news release. “Studies show that a child is seven times more likely to succeed in school and go on to higher education if someone is saving for them. Making sure more families are saving is an important part of moving Mississippi down the right path forward.”

The mascot will accompany the treasurer to events such as college fairs and other stops where Fitch pitches the savings plans. Staffers from the treasurer’s office will wear the costume.

The mockingbird is the state bird, and the mascot was named Echo because mockingbirds often mimic or echo sounds they hear, Fitch’s staff said Monday. The number “529” on the mascot’s jersey symbolizes the IRS section that refers to college savings plans.

“We hope that his repetition will help drive home the point that saving for college is a good investment for Mississippi families,” Williams said. “It’s been very successful in other states.”

Note: An earlier version of this story was updated to reflect that the cost of the television ad and web ad was about $50,000, which came out of the agency’s $250,000 marketing budget.