Arizona State University’s costumed mascot, Sparky, got a makeover as part of a new marketing campaign designed to draw a younger generation to the Sun Devils, school officials revealed Friday.
The iconic mascot, which appears at sports and community events, now has a more kid-friendly face and bulked-up muscles to make him appear more like a superhero. ASU officials emphasized that the current official logo of Sparky holding a pitchfork will continue to be used on clothes and merchandise. A logo based on the new costume also will be used on ASU gear.
“Sparky was from a different era, and we needed to update him,” said Stephen Teglas, vice president of licensing for Disney Consumer Products. Disney designed the new character with help from ASU students.
But the new look wasn’t an immediate hit.
Word of the updated Sparky spread quickly around the Tempe campus as students showed each other photos of the latest version on their cellphones. The last major revision of the costumed character was in 2007.
“He looks too cartoony,” said Tayla Erickson, 18, a freshman, as she compared pictures of the old and new mascot. “It’s a little depressing.”
Taria Cotton, 19, is also fond of the old Sparky. But if the goal is a friendlier appearance for children, the new Sparky is less intimidating, she said.
ASU Athletic Director Steve Patterson said Sparky’s new look allows him to be more versatile, possibly for use in short films as well as in children’s books and merchandise. The new Sparky will make his first appearance in front of fans at the university’s spring football game on April13.
Sparky’s appeal extends beyond athletics. He appears on everything from T-shirts and coffee cups to plush toys and license plates. And he’s even seen as a business perk.
As a current ASU student, I personally am not to really think it matters what Sparky looks like. I did enjoy the original look; he just didn’t look like a typical mascot, and more like a little devil man looking to get people pumped up. So now I want to hear from you. Yes or no on the new look. On the fence? Not for it but understand why the change?