SBD/March 12, 2013/Colleges

Arizona State Facing Backlash Over Disney-Influenced Change To Mascot Costume

After Arizona State Univ. recently unveiled a “modern version" of the school's costumed "Sparky" mascot, a "growing chorus of students and alumni is demanding the old Sparky back,” according to Anne Ryman of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Two Facebook pages, a “student-generated YouTube video and an online petition have sprung up, calling on ASU to reject the new version of Sparky that was designed in partnership with Walt Disney Co.” The makeover is “part of a new marketing campaign designed to endear Sparky to a younger generation.” The new mascot has “superhero features, including big eyes and bulging muscles, that focus groups said are more kid-friendly.” ASU President Michael Crow “compared the Sparky backlash with a controversy two years ago when ASU introduced its ‘Fear the Fork’ athletic campaign with Nike.” Crow said that the fork campaign “has proved exceedingly popular.” ASU Associate VP/Public Affairs Terri Shafer said that “much of the criticism stems from a misunderstanding that the university is changing the iconic Sparky logo.” She said that the new character “will not replace the logo ... only the costumed mascot.” Ryman notes the “old Sparky" is still "scheduled for appearances until his successor takes his place at the April 13 spring football game” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/11).
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