Creating your mascot’s back story is an important and often over looked part of defining the personality of the character. A good back story helps establish the character, explain who he/she is, and provide motivation for the performer to develop a unique persona. The personality of the mascot helps dictate his actions and habits.
One of my favorite character biographies was for K-O of the Brockton Rox baseball team in 2003. It was done as an interview with the local newspaper and allowed me to present the mascot’s story to the public in a humorous fashion. As a performer I always “pushed it” and this mock interview does as well, with a few jokes that probably should have been edited out.
Below is the entire interview, originally published on July 13, 2003 in the Brockton Enterprise
Below is an interview with Brockton’s newest celebrity, K-O the kangaroo. K-O, who stands seven boomerangs tall and weighs 2,416 baseballs (or roughly the same as a baby elephant) serves as mascot for the Brockton Rox minor league baseball team. We sat down with K-O before a recent Rox game
The Enterprise: Where were you born?
K-O: I was born at the Marsupial Medical Center on Kangaroo Island in Australia. They say I weighed 100 pounds, which is pretty heavy for a joey.
Enterprise: How did you start working for the Rox?
K-O: Well, the GM of the team Dave Echols was on a scouting trip to Australia. I happened to go to grammar school with Craig Lewis, the player he was scouting. Even though I’m a “boxing” kangaroo, I love baseball. Craigh got me a tryout in front of Dave. I played my best game ever, but Dave told me I was the worst ball player he’d ever seen, of any species! He did however think I would make a great addition to the Rox as the team’s mascot.
Enterprise: Speaking of your boxing career, what is your record?
K-O: It’s currently 42-0, all knockouts.
Enterprise: Who are some of the boxers you have faced?
K-O: Well they weren’t really boxers. More like that guy who keeps saying, “Momma said knock you out,” Barney, some guy who pulled my tail, a mime, several Yankees fans, and even though he won’t admit it, the Famous Chicken.
Enterprise: Do you have to be in shape to be a mascot?
K-O: Oh, I’m in great shape! That is, if you consider “pear” a shape.
Enterprise: What is your family like?
K-O: Well there’s my mom and pop, and my older brother Syd. We’re all in the entertainment industry. Pop was the spokes ‘roo for “Kangaroo Krunchies” a very popular sugar-coated chocolate cereal in Australia; Mom has been the featured attraction at the Kangaroo Zoo for over 10 years; Syd took the stage name “Jack,” moved to LA, and became a movie star.
Enterprise: What did you want to be when you grew up?
K-O: A firefighting-astronaut-cowboy who plays shortstop for the Boston Red Sox.
Enterprise: Are kangaroos endangered?
K-O: No, we’re actually so numerous they’ve started making kangaroo burgers. The best thing about Brockton is they don’t serve kangaroo! the food an beverage director has been leaving me threatening notes though, stuff like “i bet you taste like chicken!”
Enterprise: What do you do for fun?
K-O: I’m actually an avid belly dancer. I spend several nights each week at “Madame Bonapart’s Belly Dance Academy for Bulbous Marsupials” on fifth street. I also enjoy base jumping, extreme water ballet, poodle shaving, frisbee golf, full contact shuffle-board, making brownies, extreme bingo, underwater basket weaving, saying “wicked” a lot, extreme cribbage, parking my car at Harvard yard, and chasing my tail.
Enterprise: If you weren’t a mascot, what job would you have?
K-O: A male model for “plus size” clothing.
Enterprise: How do you prepare for a game?
K-O: I start off by eating 25 hot dogs followed by five trays of nachos with cheese, two orders of chicken fingers, a bowl of clam chowder, two bowls of chili, two double cheeseburgers, a partridge, and a pear tree. I then listen to some music to get me pumped up. Right now my pump up music is “Dare To Be Stupid” by Weird Al and “Taco Flavored Kisses” by J-Lo. I then make sure the visiting team’s cooler is emptied of regular Powerade and replaced with fish-flavored Powerade. I take the visiting teams’ boxer shorts and fly them on the flagpole as well.
Enterprise: Do you have any game day superstitions?
K-O: I feel it’s unlucky to take a bath during a home stand. If I take a bath, I know the team is doomed. Some people have started to notice the odor of my dedication. I’m not stinky, I’m lucky.
Enterprise: What is your favorite part of the game?
K-O: Hugs! I am the all time leader in hugs received per game with an average of 3,420 hugs. I am also the world leader in the dispersal of kangaroo kisses with a minimum of 2,101 fans receiving smooches at each game. I also enjoy all of the free snacks I find stuck in my fur after a game. There’s nothing like furball covered Cracker Jacks, believe me.
Enterprise: What is your least favorite part of the game?
K-O: TAIL-PULLERS!!!! It hurts, its mean, and if you pull my tail don’t be surprised if you get a bucket of popcorn dumped on your head.
Enterprise: What is something that not everyone knows about you?
K-O: That I am the uncontested, self proclaimed, “Best Mascot in New England.” I held the “Best Mascot” title in my native country and no one has challenged my title since I got here so I can only assume it’s mine. If any other mascots want to take my title and the “Best Mascot” championship beltthey’re invited to take part in my “New England Mascot Challenge!” They’ll be allowed to come perform at a Rox game, and if they can win my crowd over, they’ll be invited to the final showdown!
Book: Harry Potter and the Order of Onion Rings
Movie: Brave Little Toaster 5; Revenge of the Toaster
Movie star: Jackie Leggs
Food: Anything and everything edible, has been known to eat decorative bowls of plastic fruit
Color: Kangaroo brown
Music: Hip hop, of course
Dance move: Double whammy belly shammy shake
Hero: Elvis, the fat years
Saying: “Floss daily.”
Subject in school: Tie between lunch and recess.
Baseball player: Ted Williams, unfrozen
As you can see this is a long and thorough story. We find out that K-O is a sharp witted “fat guy” who runs around knocking out mimes and a purple dinosaur. He’s pretty pompous, proclaiming himself the best mascot in New England, but also loves giving hugs. He’s a born entertainer coming from a family of kangaroo actors and he’s confident of his over sized body. He’s whimsical/random and enjoys belly dancing and poodle shaving. And he’s edgy, as that awful Ted Williams joke shows (really thought they’d edit that one out!)
This helped inspire his character and attitude. He’s fat, but he feels he’s good looking so he might have to sit down after running up a flight of stairs, but that lady he just sat next to “How you doing?” He loves to belly dance so he dressed up as a belly dancer and tried to “seduce” the visiting team. He might “talk” smack to the other team, only to run away when someone makes a move towards him.
The secret to being a great mascot performer is to develop a character and portray that character the entire time you’re in costume.
Are you upset? Be upset in character? Tired? In character. Bored? In character.
When I came to the Rays in 2004 the only biography of the mascot was on the side of a bobble head doll that had been given away in 2002. It was long and involved hot dogs and Rays scouts. It didn’t really define who, or what Raymond was. After I went full time in 2006 I sat down to decide once and for all what Raymond was and crafted the following story:
“In early 1998, Rays scouts on a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico spotted a strange looking animal. The creature, apparently drawn to the boat by the smell of hotdogs on the hibachi, climbed aboard and soon won the scouts over with his silly antics. During the excitement, a scout had a brilliant idea: make this fun loving fuzz ball the mascot for the new baseball team. “Raymond” as the scouts dubbed him, immediately accepted their contract offer of all the hotdogs he could eat, all the high fives he could handle, and the ability to shake his groove thing to countless Tampa Bay fans.
Raymond’s animal-like appearance causes confusion among fans of all ages. His fuzzy face is similar to a walrus and his bulbous blue belly likens him to a mutant manatee. So what exactly is he?
In 2005 marine biologists and zoologists made a startling discovery; Raymond is actually a previously undiscovered species of dog known as “Canus Manta Whatthefluffalus” or in layman’s terms, a Seadog. Seadogs have all the traits of normal dogs. They enjoy going for walks, playing with kids, and fetching. Unlike other dogs they are five to six feet tall, walk upright, are blue in color, and chase catfish. While other dogs live on land, Seadogs usually live in or around the water. Seadogs are well known for their fun-loving nature, passion for baseball, and general good looks.”
The #1 issue I wanted to address was exactly what Raymond was. I decided on a “Seadog” primarily because the animal he was most often called was a dog and secondarily because seadog is a term for a pirate, and pirates are a large part of Tampa Bay’s history.
We also developed a “Likes/Dislikes” section which was another avenue for humor and character definition:
- Full Name: Raymond Ray
- Birthplace: Gulf of Mexico
- Age: Unknown
- Height: Really tall
- Weight: Really heavy
- MLB debut: June 21, 1998
- Position: Upright and locked
- Throws: Tantrums
- Catches: Colds
- Bats: Scare him
- Color: Blue…duh
- Food: EVERYTHING!
- Songs: “Blue” and “Mozart’s 5th Concerto”
- TV Show: I’d rather be reading!
- Books: HAIRY Potter, Monsters Under My Bed, Wuthering Heights
- Movies: “The Rookie” and “Monsters, Inc.”
Likes: Rays baseball, belly dancing, hugs, hot dogs, doing flips, full contact shuffle board, poodle shaving, extreme chess, reading, and KIDS!
Dislikes: Hairballs, taking baths, getting nacho cheese in his fur, falling off walls.
As a result of this clarification of who/what Raymond was, the character grew in esteem and recognition, and I stopped hearing “What are you??” as fans would tell people “He’s a SeaDog.”
When the Astros reintroduced Orbit after a decade they made sure to craft a back story and bio to explain his absence and return. You can read it on their website. Anyone familiar with Orbit knows he’s a character and has a set personality. Establishing his bio was just step one of creating a well defined character.
So remember fellow furballs, if you want to be more than a kid in a fuzzy suit, consider yourself an actor. Create your character and be that character. A well crafted back story will help you find inspiration and definition.
Stay fuzzy my friend ~Kelly
No longer simply side show entertainment, mascots have the potential to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for their organizations. Some of the “revenue” is increased brand awareness in the community. The areas of direct revenue are:
- Overall mascot sponsorship: This package usually involves logo placement on the mascot’s jersey, autograph cards/printed materials, and website. Also included are in game mentions and appearances at the local branches. These sponsorships can range from $8,500 for a minor league baseball mascot to $40,000 and up for major league sports mascots. A mascot sponsorship allows a business a nontraditional marketing opportunity that is very visual/interactive and helps draws traffic to their locations.
- Kids Club: Teams and businesses can offer a fan club for children. They usually offer a free membership that includes a membership card and an electronic newsletter or a premier membership that costs $15-$100 and includes a variety of items and invitations to members only events. The Nashville Predators Kid’s Club is sponsored by a local dentist. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s is sponsored by Subway. Kids clubs allow the team and it’s corporate partner to get their brand message to children and their parents and creates a database for marketing efforts.
- School shows: The Chicago Bears “Tackle Reading” program is sponsored by ComEd, the local electric company. The Indianapolis Colts offer five different school shows each with it’s own sponsor. The Houston Rockets have numerous school shows that the charge $850 a show for, and partner with a local hospital to distribute a children’s book featuring Clutch to area students. The team receives money AND gets to bring their brand message to tens of thousands of school children annually, all while generating exposure for their corporate partners. Popular school show themes are reading, physical fitness, anti-bullying, and state standardized test preparation.
- In game promotions: The Minnesota Wild of the NHL have Dairy Queen as a sponsor for their “mini mascot” promotion. The Denver Broncos and Minnesota Twins also have mini mascots. This allows the sponsor an unique and visual opportunity to promote their brands and draw traffic to their stores/websites through registration for the contest. In minor league baseball mascot races attract local sponsors. In major league baseball mascot races are very popular sponsored contests with the Milwaukee Brewers Racing Sausages being the most famous. Almost every MLB team has a racing mascot promotion.
- Giveaway items: Mascot themed giveaways such as bobbleheads, plush dolls, banks, jerseys, hats and more allow a sponsor a chance to get their logo on thousands of gifts given to the fans. Items can be customized to the sponsor like a toothbrush holder for a dentist, a piggy bank for a bank, or a soap dispenser for a health care provider.
- In stadium/arena mascot zone: Numerous teams have created a zone/home/den/play area featuring their mascot. These areas allow for sponsor placement/integration, serve as a mascot meet and greet location, and offer photo opportunities.
- Promotional Vehicle: In addition to giving the mascot a means of transportation a promotional vehicle is a mobile billboard for the team and any presenting sponsor. These deals generally involve logo placement on the vehicle and appearances at all mascot related events. Car dealerships are the most common partner and the vehicle is usually included in the deal.
- Deliveries: Seasonal gift basket/flower deliveries are popular ways to generate revenue with Valentine’s day being the most popular. The Houston Astros and Texas Rangers mascots deliver a gift basket and flowers to their fans for a fee. The Astros even found a sponsor for their delivery increasing their earning potential. Other holidays include Easter, Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Mothers/Fathers Day, and birthdays. For an additional fee, Tampa Bay Lightning season ticket holders could get their tickets delivered to thier home or office. It’s a great way to kick off the season. These deliveries can be advertised through social media, on the team’s website, in the team store, through e-mail blasts, and in game.
- Birthday Parties: Appearances at birthday parties are an easy way to generate paid appearances. Most teams offer a few options including a short visit (10-15 minutes) or a deluxe package including playing party games and other entertainment. Additional add on items are a customized jersey or additional ticket vouchers. Teams charge anywhere from $50-$800 for these visits. Birthday parties can also be held at the ballpark/arena. These packages generally include tickets, food, drink, cake, a present, and a visit from the mascot.
- Parades: Community parades often need to book entertainment. Almost every little league has a parade. Fourth of July, Christmas, and Thanksgiving are also big parade seasons. The mascot and their promotional vehicle appear in the parade and distribute giveaway items and provide entertainment. Parades are some of the most difficult appearances, often lasting 2-5 hours including pre-parade positioning and post parade traffic, therefore these appearances generally cost more than standard mascot appearances.
- Weddings: Many super fans want to include their team on their special day. A mascot is often a surprise guest who adds excitement to the event. College and University mascots are often booked for these events. The mascot can act as a ring bearer or just be there to cut a rug on the dance floor.
- Seat/Suite visits: Teams can offer a personalized seat visit from the mascot in their seat or luxury suite. Groups can also book the mascot. These are quick visits where the mascot delivers a gift and takes a photo. This is a great way for fans to guarantee a visit from the mascot. They are great for birthdays, holidays, and even wedding proposals
- Plush Dolls: Teams offer mascot plush dolls in a variety of sizes and price points. Several teams have partnered with Build a Bear and created “build a mascot.” The teams then offer stations in the park/arena for children to make their own mascot doll. Bobble head dolls, and plush mascot hats are also great items to sell.
- Clothing: Youth T-shirts and mascot jerseys are popular items. Adults wear mascot t-shirts as well. Other items include scarves, sweatshirts, socks, and hats.
- Costumes: Recently Halloween costumes of team mascots have become popular. These are great high end items that help grow lifelong fans, while also advertising your team in local neighborhoods.
- Other items: School sets, backpacks, pennants, pucks, baseballs, bats, basically any item can feature the mascot.
A properly run mascot program can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for its organization directly and increase brand value through social media and grassroots marketing. Make sure you’re not leaving money on the table and maximize your mascot program today!
If you want a personal assessment of your mascot costume and program, please feel free to contact us at AMAZING!! Mascots, Inc.
Stay fuzzy my friends~ Kelly