Spartanburg Community College found itself in a unique scenario. In 2020, Doctor Michael Mikota was hired as president and tasked with leading the school into the future. Throughout his career, President Mikota had a long standing record of being able to bring students, faculty, and community together through school pride. After some thought, he came to a realization, Spartanburg needs a school mascot.
Upon recognizing this need, Spartanburg Community College assembled a mascot implementation team. This team, made up of staff and students, represented multiple disciplines throughout the school. After some discussion, an operations manager at the school had a brilliant idea. What about using a dog? Specifically, a Border Collie.
Now, let me clue you in on what makes a Border Collie a special breed of dog. Border Collies are herding dogs and are therefore extremely smart. There have been many famous Border Collies over the years. In fact, Spartanburg happens to have a famous Border Collie of their own…
That’s when it hit, the perfect name: Chaser.
Chaser was a female Border Collie that belonged to Doctor John W. Pilley, a Professor of Psychology at Wofford College in Spartanburg. Dr. Pilley was a professor at Wofford while President Mikota was attending as student. Dr. Pilley was best known for his research into canine cognition and language learning. His dog Chaser was not only his personal companion, but the subject of his research.
Over the years, Chaser learned to identify 1,022 toys by name, a feat which is not only extremely impressive, but also a world record. Chaser was recognized as having the largest tested memory of any non-human animal. A recognition that catapulted the pair to worldwide acclaim and stardom.
It was decided. Chaser is the perfect representative for Spartanburg Community College, an institution that encourages its students to “chase” their dreams! Chaser came from an unassuming beginning, but through education became a worldwide success story. A story that perfectly exemplifies what Spartanburg Community College wants to convey to its students. Everyone has potential to do something great!
With the perfect mascot selected, the design process could finally begin. Chaser had a unique coat, speckled white with black dots throughout. This look was not typical of most Border Collies, who often had solid black and white coat transitions throughout their body.
Chaser’s special pattern was something that needed to be replicated as closely as possible. With this thought in mind, Spartanburg Community College purchased a custom costume from another vendor hoping to make their dream of a Chaser mascot come true. Unfortunately, the result was too “cartoony” and didn’t stand out a Border Collie.
Spartanburg then reached out to us here at Olympus Mascots. Sure enough, we had the perfect saleswoman for the job! Our local animal mascot expert (and dog mom) Vanessa, collaborated closely with Spartanburg Community College to make their idea come to life.
Once the costume was finished and approved, Chaser was ready for action. When you got something this special, you have an opportunity to make a big reveal. One of the ways the marketing team at Spartanburg Community College wanted to do this was through a video, which you can see here:
There are many ways to market your mascot, but this approach was an absolute stroke of creative genius. This method got the message across while also being fun and inexpensive. How would the marketing team continue to use Chaser to rally the community together? Through social media of course!
To help Chaser come to life, actors from the local community theater were hired for the job. This is certainly no small task, but with practice anyone can do it. See our blog here for insight into being a mascot performer. Thankfully for the marketing team, these actors did a fantastic job getting into character. So much so that, upon arriving to Spartanburg’s Dickenson Town Christmas celebration, fans swarmed Chaser down every block!
Her popularity reflects the marketing strategy employed by the mascot team. This strategy involves having a unique identity, participating in events, and frequently interacting with fans. It’s certainly not a complicated strategy, but one that pays off. Her presence at any event brings joy to the community and gets people excited about higher education. If you want your mascot to have the same effect with your organization, we have a nifty mascot marketing guide available on our site.
With all this action, the mascot costume itself was seeing lots of use. People can’t help but touch her plush fur! As you can see, Chaser is constantly on the move. Running around campus is a full time job! This is why it is so important to design mascot costumes for long-term use and breathability. In fact, Spartanburg Community College has been so happy with Chaser, that they’ve even ordered a second costume.
To this day, Spartanburg Community College continues to spread Chaser’s story throughout the nation. Her presence at any event draws fans from all around. Chaser and Doctor Pilley have since passed on, but you can still find them memorialized in Spartanburg’s Morgan Square downtown.
Having a plan, mission, or vision is important when communicating what you expect out of your mascot costume. Ask questions like: Will my mascot interact with Children? Will my mascot be outdoors frequently? Will my mascot be doing athletic activities? Having thoughts surrounding these ideas is tremendously helpful to make a design that best fits your needs.
Find yourself a vendor that really understands your vision and is willing to work with you. Sales representatives with long histories in mascots are ideal partners for helping you along your mascot journey.
If you are starting your mascot journey from scratch, be sure to assemble a team that gets the spirit of the project. The most important quality for each group member is their passion. People are much more willing to think creatively about their goals when they are passionate about the project.