Dave Raymond first slipped on the Phillie Phanatic costume for a home game against the Chicago Cubs on April 25, 1978. Thirty years later, Raymond is still considered an expert in sports entertainment and character branding. Here's what he said separates the good mascots from the bad:
•What makes a mascot great...
The organization behind it must incorporate the mascot into all marketing efforts. It's not just a mascot, it's a character. People invest in characters.
The costume has to be creative, fun and identifiable — and performer friendly. It has to be comfortable.
The performer must be skilled. It can't just be a kid in a suit. A suit is what you wear to a wedding. This is a character costume, and the person inside must be a skilled, trained performer.
•What makes a mascot hated...
Just throwing someone in there and telling them to lumber around doesn't cut it. Why even have a mascot? Not everyone with a pulse is a performer.
Lack of commitment:
If whoever is involved in the project doesn't understand the value, then it's going to (stink). They have to care enough to make the mascot significant.
Not just anybody can design costumes. When people don't understand the value, what you get is a kid in a pair of pajamas and a Plaster of Paris head.