Phanatical PR

Today I read that the Philadelphia Public Relations Association honored a well-known local "brand ambassador" with its 2017 Gold Medal Award.

The recipient is a person of few words, communicates mostly through humor and is, well, green.

The Phillie Phanatic was granted the award; when I saw the story, I scratched my head.  But only for a minute.

Think about it.  When thousands of Phillies fans enter their ballpark before a game, what is the first image of the team's brand are they likely to see? The Phanatic. If you're not a sports fan, the Phanatic entertains the crowd through good-natured teasing of opponents, umpires and often the Phillies players and coaches as well. Because mascots don't speak, the Phanatic uses exaggerated gestures, body language and pratfalls to elicit reactions.

Baseball games by their nature are a distraction from the real world - nothing beats a day at the ballpark particularly when the rest of the world is in chaos. The Phillie Phanatic underscores that point and adds another excellent level of entertainment for fans.  But, more than that, he is defining and underscoring the Phillies' brand:

  • A Philadelphia Phillies game is a great family experience;
  • It's just a ball game, so if we lose, we can still have a great time;
  • No matter who you are, we have the Phillies in common and we can all laugh together.

The infectious mascot surely puts fans in a good mood (often after the hassle of overpriced parking, finding your seats and battling the crowd through the stadium and its concourses). Fans in a good mood buy hot dogs for the kids, a cold beer for themselves, and of course what is a ball game without peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

Seeing that story was a reminder for me. Yes, the bottom line is critical. Yes, messaging must be precise. Yes, crafting your brand is vitally important. But it's okay to have fun along the way and, most importantly, if your fans are engaged and entertained they are more loyal and are more likely to spend.

So sometimes public relations is best delivered not by a press release or a speech by an executive, but my a larger than life green mascot.


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