Cleveland Indians - Tribe Hot Dogs Racing Mascots
In 2005, the Cleveland Indians followed the trend of many MLB teams and added an in-game mascot race to their gameday fan experience. The Indians started the now-famous Hot Dog Derby with three racing hot dog mascots: Onion, Mustard, and Ketchup.
What started out as only a mascot race in the 5th inning has evolved into an unforgettable experience for Indians’ fans at the ballpark and beyond. Over the years, the Tribe Hot Dogs have grown their presence at games, in the community, and on social media.
"Olympus was huge with helping us design and create and build the mascots. We really wanted to keep the performer in mind with vision, durability, and mobility, especially because they are racing mascots. Olympus was very helpful with creating and designing the mascots, so they are not clunky and heavy for running the race 81 times a year."
Chocked with 'Hot Dog' Mascot Personality
When the hot dogs were first introduced, they lacked facial features and characteristics—they were just plain hot dogs. Not long after the introduction, interest in the racing hotdogs increased, and the Indians created a new mascot program.
The hot dogs were given facial features and accessories to later coincide with the personality of each character. Each racing mascot has a specific performer dedicated to maintaining the same persona at every game.
The mascots will sometimes perform skits during the race to carry out the personalities of the mascots. Occasionally, the Indians’ main mascot Slider, will participate in these skits by tackling Ketchup, helping Onion win, or holding back Mustard.
Racing Mascots Entertaining Fans Since 2005
In 2005, the hot dogs were used strictly for the mascot race, however, over the years the use has evolved gradually with increased fan interaction. In addition to the race, the Hot Dogs are used for pregame meet and greets and photo-ops, pregame block parties, in-game promotions and t-shirt tosses, and the seventh inning stretch. The racing mascots are highly interactive with fans and sometimes can be seen for 2 of the 3 hours of each game.
One thing that fans look forward to is the Indians’ mascot band: “Slider and the Dogs”. Every Sunday on kids’ fun day, the mascots perform current songs, with Ketchup and Mustard on guitars, Onion on the piano, and Slider on the drums. The show runs every Sunday for about 30 minutes when fans are coming through the center field gate.
It is a night and day difference from the first few years of the Hot Dogs to now, and fans love it!
Tribe Hot Dogs Social Media Strategy Proves ROI of Mascots
The Tribe Hot Dogs attend a variety of different events, from birthdays to community events to weddings and everything in between. Since the rise of social media, Instagram specifically, the tribe hot dogs have grown their online presence, proving a steep ROI for the Cleveland Indians and growing their event appearance presence by almost 400% between 2018 & 2019. Currently, the Tribe Hot Dogs attend roughly 125 events and that number is growing rapidly!
“After appearances we will post pictures from them, and [customer's appear] like clockwork. Almost immediately after the event and social media post, we will get anywhere from 5-10 direct messages from people interested in having the Hot Dogs attend their event. Social media has been an extreme help in getting outside appearances for building the brand of not only the Cleveland Indians but the Hot Dogs as well.”
The Indians strive to make their social media accounts an interactive platform for fans, so they try to like, repost, or reply to fans’ comments. Doing this makes fans feel like they are a part of the conversation. The Tribe Hot Dogs’ Instagram page is very active as they try to post every day. To keep the content relevant, the Indians Social Media team incorporates social media trends by switching the lingo to be on-brand with the Indians or Tribe Hot Dogs. Social media is a key tool for the Indians and helps keep fans excited about the team and the Hot Dogs year-round.
Racing Mascots Turned Wedding Crashers
The Tribe Hot Dogs attend many different events, but weddings are a popular request. To date, the Indians’ mascots have attended over 60 weddings. Normally the Hot Dogs crash the wedding during the reception portion when all formalities are finished, but a recent request asked for the Hot Dogs to run in during the vows. Being invited to weddings is always humbling for the Indians, and they love that fans want to include them in their special day.
"Olympus is a great company to work with and they produce a great quality mascot."
Cleveland Indians Mascot Tips
Find a performer who likes being in costume—they will make the character come to life a lot better.
Vision should be a priority when designing your mascot costume. You don’t want your performers running into things or knocking people over.
Make sure the outside of your costume is easy to clean, it’ll help keep your mascot costume looking brand new from day 1 to day 100.
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