Bear, rabbit, dog, character inspired by cartoons or more traditional … You thought you had seen it all when it came to mascots? The Chiba Lotte Marines, a Japanese baseball team, recently switched to a lanternfish. Yes, this abyssal fish already not spoiled by nature, styled in neon blue with fuchsia lips, capable of regurgitating fish bones. The find went around the world in early June, highlighting (a little) Japanese baseball, the national sport in the land of the Rising Sun. Never mind that the Marines already have three ducks (link in English) in their bestiary …
— Chiba Lotte Marines Official Account (@Chiba_Lotte) June 11, 2017
One more proof that the imagination of mascot creators is limitless … Franceinfo looks back on five other examples.
The antimascotte: no one has a crush on the San Francisco Giants’ Crazy Crab
1984. Mascots have flourished all over the United States, but the San Francisco baseball team missed it. The club is racking its brains to fill the ancient Candlestick Park. “My job was to have asses sitting on the seatssums it up bluntly Pat Gallagher, 30-year Giants marketing director, at ESPN (at 1’56 ”, link in English). I didn’t want something trivial. People here wouldn’t have appreciated a Muppet-style mascot that was everywhere else. “
The management of the club discreetly carries out a survey: 75% of those questioned say that they will whistle a mascot, no matter which one. The idea of an antimascotte, to make an apathetic public react, emerges. It will be an orange crab, one of the tourist symbols of San Francisco. A bit as if the PSG chose a giant wand for their mascot. Comedian Wayne Doba, who just shot in Scarface, is cast for the role.
— SF Giants Report (@sfgiants_fanly) May 20, 2015
For her first public appearance, the crowd turns hateful “in six seconds”, remembers a leader. People throw at him whatever comes their way: tobacco quid, chewing gum … And the players are not left out. “We loved this crab, remembers Mike Krukow, a member of this broken arm team, at SFgate (link in English). He was slapped in the shin guards with a dummy foam bat as soon as he approached. It was therapeutic. “ A leader adds: “It diverted some of the hatred aimed at the players.” Crazy Crab season will end in a fishtail, when two San Diego Padres players beat the unfortunate crustacean (link in English). A cracked vertebra and a lawsuit will end the mascot’s career. The Giants will wait thirteen years (link in English) before acquiring another.
The trash mascot: in Swansea, a swan named Cyril will suffice
1998. The year when Mike Lewis, ex-marketing director of Tottenham arrives in Swansea to revive this modest football club, which vegetates in the lower divisions of the English championship. Used to happenings – he regularly brought fire eaters or the tallest man in the world to White Hart Lane – he advocates the creation of a mascot. It will be a swan (swan in English).
The costume is not cheap – 4,000 pounds (around 4,500 euros), the equivalent of the club’s transfer budget –, but the investment quickly pays for itself. Quickly, Cyril becomes a local celebrity. His children’s book and his (horrible) single are a hit. Not a weekend without a birthday or a wedding. The club switchboard is overwhelmed with calls. He was quickly named Personality of the Year by readers of the South Wales Evening Post.
— HotFooty (@hotfootynews) June 6, 2016
But the swan is especially noted for its aggressive attitude, describes the book Pulp Football. He tears off the head of Zampa the lion, another mascot, throws pies at opposing supporters … And, one FA Cup night against Millwall, in a white-hot stadium, Cyril joins in the celebration of the players of Swansea and sends a ball into the head of an opposing player. Overwhelmed by euphoria, he stroked the bald head of the assistant referee with his wing.
This is too much for the British federation, which decides to crack down and summons the mascot. He was sentenced to a 1000 pounds fine, ultimately paid by the club. After all, the revenue had increased tenfold from his presence alone.
The bulimic mascot: at the Sausages of the Milwaukee Brewers, it’s sausage fair
For Americans, Wisconsin rhymes with sausage, as this state has made a specialty of it. The nod had long existed in Brewers Stadium: On the club’s notice board, a cartoon showed sausages racing past state landmarks before arriving. In 1994, a member of the board of directors wondered, innocently: “Why don’t we rent costumes to organize a real race, to give a surprise?” “We only thought we would do it once”, tells Laurel Prieb, then vice-president of the club, at New York Times.
Twenty years later, it is still the main attraction of County Stadium. The three sausages of the time (a Bratwurst with a leather pants, a kielbasa Polish and a sausage Italian) have grafted a hot dog and a chorizo, to satisfy the Hispanic community. The club’s communication department cuts short all interview requests – “Sausages don’t talk.” A veteran gives some details: “The suits are pretty much aero, except for the chorizo, which has to come with a huge sombrero. Usually, you put the more experienced rider in there to balance the race.”
Ancient mascots: Phevos and Athena are badly seen among the Greeks
A philologist. A historian. A designer. On paper, the team responsible for bringing the mascots of the 2004 Athens Olympics to life could not be wrong. Chosen among 200 proposals, their Phevos and Athena, two characters inspired by an ancient statue of 2,700 years old, had everything to flatter the national ego, and meet the expectations of accountants who expected a lot of derivatives to supplement the budget of the event.
The euphoria of the launch was followed by a series of insults. A Marxist terrorist group uses Phevos and Athena as a pseudonym to claim a series of car bomb explosions on the day of an IOC meeting. Prominent scholars choke on discovery of Organizing Committee verbiage on original statue of Phevos and Athena, described as vulgar “doll”. “The IOC deviates the spiritual values of Hellenistic civilization by degrading deities who were worshiped during the ancient Games”, Strangles Doctor Pan Marinis on BBC (link in English). Worse, an association of friends of ancient Greece is taking legal action against the organizers.
The appearance of mascots is rejected by 75% of Greeks, trumpets a television on the basis of a poll. In response, the designers cite Cobi, the Barcelona Games mascot, initially unloved before entering the pantheon of the most profitable mascots. “It will take time to love them”, defends Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, president of the organizing committee. But Phevos and Athena will quickly fade into oblivion, except among Greek taxpayers. As pointed out The Independent, the products bearing the effigy of the mascots brought only 2% of the expected windfall.
The chosen mascot: H’Angus, the Hartlepool monkey who broke the ballot boxes
When you don’t have the means to strike a big blow in the transfer window, you try to attract attention by other means. In 2002, when the city of Hartlepool (United Kingdom) decided to elect its mayor by direct universal suffrage, the monkey H’Angus, alias Stuart Drummond, mascot of the local club, proposed to the club to compete. The program of this credit checker in a call center takes one line: “Free bananas for schoolchildren.”
His feat of arms: having been suspended for several weeks for having simulated, in his two-meter-tall monkey costume, a sexual act with a hostess. Without the supporters holding it against him: “This guy is crazy, but at least he makes us laugh when our team is playing badly, which happens quite often.”, comments a supporter in the Telegraph.
Against all odds, Drummond pulverizes the Labor candidate. Comment – somewhat embarrassed – from 10 Downing Street, then occupied by Tony Blair, to the BBC: “We expected [avec ce nouveau mode de scrutin] new faces come to the fore. “ It succeeded. Drummond, who keeps repeating at length of interview that he is only one “common guy who listens to what is being said in the street”, must quickly drop his plush monkey costume. Here he is at the head of an administration of 4,000 people and a budget of 106 million pounds (approximately 120 million euros). To its credit (in particular) the fact that the Hartlepool children have free fruit every day. He was re-elected twice, in 2005 and 2009 (link in English), before Labor regains control of the city by abandoning (link in English) direct universal suffrage. He still finished 10th in a ranking of the best mayors in the world (link in English) in 2010.
For the record, H’Angus initially wanted to run in the 2001 legislative elections. “But Peter Mandelson, the local MP, is also honorary president of our club., says Drummond in the book The Rise of the Non-Aligned Politician. I couldn’t decently step on her toes. “