It’s been over a week since Gritty was introduced to fans as the new mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers. Since then Gritty has caused quite a stir —to say the least—and has fueled stories, jokes and memes nationwide. Most have described the seven-foot tall, orange and furry Gritty as horrifying and yet some found him delightful.
No matter what side of the debate you are on, one thing is for certain: in less than 24 hours, Gritty became a national sports figure. So was the debut of the new mascot, despite the overwhelming amount of negative comments, successful?
According to Lawrence Cohen, associate clinical professor of Sport Management in Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, who weighed in on the discussion, Gritty was a win for the Flyers.
“Everyone knows who Gritty is,” he said. “Gritty was all over social media, local and national news, and was even featured on ‘Last Week Tonight’ with John Oliver. The Flyers got millions of dollars worth of publicity for free.”
While most claim they don’t like the new mascot and dub it horrifying and scary, Cohen sees Gritty as a success. “All of the publicity has been great for the Flyers,” Cohen said. “Gritty has more than 119,000 Twitter followers—that’s more than any other mascot in the NHL. The Flyers got publicity during a month in which the team usually receives no attention due to either a Phillies playoff run or the start of the Eagles season.”
According to Cohen, in order for a mascot to be successful, it must accomplish four things:
- Be a reflection of the franchise.
- Serve as an ambassador for the franchise.
- Provide entertainment beyond the game action.
- Be recognizable.
Does Gritty accomplish these goals? Absolutely, according to Cohen.
“The name is a perfect match for the Flyers,” he said. “When hockey people talk hockey, they use terms like ‘grit’ and ‘gritty’ to indicate hardnosed, tough players. That is the Flyers’ brand. The name is perfect! Without a mascot, the Flyers were forced to use former players as ambassadors. Usually players from the teams in the 1970s. Kids, and most parents, have no idea who those players are. Now, the Flyers can send a mascot out that everybody knows, whose identity will not fade with time.”
Media interested in interviewing Cohen should contact Niki Gianakaris, executive director, media relations at 215-895-6741 or firstname.lastname@example.org