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🔑 Key Takeaways

  1. Sports mascots are important in engaging and entertaining audiences, selling merchandise, and can have a significant impact on the economics of professional sports. Their role in the game day experience is crucial in attracting families to games, especially during times of declining attendance.
  2. The Phillie Phanatic was designed to be entertaining and interactive for younger audiences through its dynamic body motions and non-speaking character, inspired by the success of a chicken mascot in San Diego.
  3. The creation of the Phillie Phanatic not only brought fame and fortune to its creators but also led to the birth of many other successful mascots. Even the teams that didn't adopt one have regretted their decision in hindsight.
  4. Creating a new mascot can be expensive but overcoming negativity is vital. Mascot boot camps can teach aspiring performers the tricks of the trade and proper maintenance is crucial for success. Gritty's success shows the potential for massive media exposure and fandom.
  5. To be a successful mascot, you need to focus on physical fitness, non-verbal communication skills, and a strong backstory. Additionally, prioritize good, clean, safe fun to avoid legal issues and learn from the mistakes of iconic characters like the Phanatic.

📝 Podcast Summary

The Power of Sports Mascots in Bringing Families to Games

Sports mascots, like the famous Phillie Phanatic, can play an important role in bringing families to baseball games, especially during times of declining attendance. Dave Raymond, the man who originally wore the costume, was a student intern with the Phillies when he was given the opportunity to bring the character to life. The idea for the mascot came from the San Diego Chicken, a raunchy character who was gaining popularity at Padres games. The success of the Phillie Phanatic and other mascots can be attributed to their ability to entertain and engage audiences and sell merchandise. Mascots are an important part of the game day experience and can make a significant impact on the economics of professional sports.

The Story of The Phillie Phanatic Mascot

The Phillie Phanatic mascot was designed to appeal to younger audiences and be entertaining through its body motions. It was created by Bonnie Erickson, a designer who worked on The Muppet Show and the design was inspired by the team's desire to up their mascot game after seeing the success of a chicken mascot in San Diego. The Phillie Phanatic was designed to be on the move, featuring a megaphone snout and a pear-shaped body. The mascot's design and feather features reflect its non-speaking character and transfer everything it wants to say through body motion. The mascot was bought by the Phillies for $3,900, saving the team $1,300.

The Story of the Phillie Phanatic and Its Impact on Designer Bonnie Erickson

The creation of the Phillie Phanatic mascot not only brought immense popularity and merchandise sales, but also led to a successful career for designer Bonnie Erickson. Dave Raymond, who never says no to anything, brought the mascot costume to life and quickly became a hit among fans and local events. The Phillies executive who passed on the Phanatic copyright later regretted it, as the team bought the character for a hefty price. The success of the Phanatic led Erickson and Harrison to design over a dozen other mascots across all four major sports leagues, but not every team is suited for a mascot like the Yankees who commissioned Erickson to make one named Dandy in 1979.

The Importance of Overcoming Negativity in Creating New Mascots

Dave Raymond, who created the iconic Philly Phanatic mascot, left to start his own mascot firm and designed the infamous Gritty. He warns of the negativity that comes with new mascots and believes it’s vital to overcome it. He charges $80,000 to $300,000 to design a mascot, and his core business is to create new mascots for college and minor league teams. Raymond runs a yearly mascot boot camp to teach aspiring performers the tricks of the trade. The cost of maintaining a mascot can be steep. To prevent body odor issues, Raymond mixes one part vodka with two parts water solution and sprays the costume every time. Gritty has generated over $160 million media exposure and has become a beloved Philadelphia icon in record time.

The Importance of Fitness, Communication, and Backstory for Successful Mascots

Being a successful mascot requires more than just being funny and entertaining. It requires physical fitness, non-verbal communication skills, and a strong backstory for the character being played. Only a small fraction of mascots make it to the high-paying big leagues and most work for low salaries. Mascot performers must also be cautious of potential lawsuits and copyright issues. It’s important for teams to prioritize good, clean, safe fun to keep crowds happy and avoid legal issues. Mascot performers should take inspiration from the Phanatic, an iconic character, but also learn from the lawsuits and copyright disputes that have plagued the mascot’s history.