Blognation Ireland referred favourably to the TouristR mascot when reviewing the travel site recently - "TR is a very smart idea as it changes costumes with each country you are looking at. They have gone with a lighthearted stereotype approach which only the truly anal will find offensive. TR adds a very strong branding to the overall site"
I would go further and say it's a work of genius. Wannita Phanchara's genius. As a student of Bernie Goldbach at Tipperary Institute Wannita has been coming along to OpenCoffee Limerick since the beginning and demonstrating her creative talent with her famous doodling. One such doodle lead to the official OpenCoffee Limerick t-shirt.
Jan Blanchard, founder of TouristR was smart enough to nab and foster Wannita's talent which is now giving the startup a degree of character and branding that's putting it head and shoulders above the me-too competitors. Just look at their cool new business cards. Hugh McLeod eat your hear out!
I think there's an opportunity here to go further. Ireland has a great tradition of 'Paddy Irishman jokes', which usual start off with - "Paddy Englishman, Paddy Irishman and Paddy Scotsman walked into a pub.....". TouristR should run weekly/monthly competitions stating the nationality of a tourist and his destination and asking the audience to come up with a joke to fit using Wannita's cartoons as inspiration. Of course these should be as stereotypical as possible. You don't need to be offensive to be stereotypical so FU to the humourless. The winning joke should then be used by Wannita to caption a cartoon and printed on a t-shirt for a prize. Of course, every tourist with a sense of humour will want that t-shirt too when visiting the destination depicted.
"Heard the one about the Frenchman who started an internet company in the west of Ireland?"