Release Your Inner Character Brand!

“He sucks, I hate him!” the tweet said.

I read it after a tap on my shoulder from Joe Heller, the V.P. of Marketing and Communication for the Philadelphia Flyers. He had his phone out and held up towards my face the way my daughters do when they have silly Tik Tok video to show me. 

“Well, this is what we expected, right?”, I said. Joe had a sheepish grin on his face and said, “Lets see what they think.”  He waved his communications team over. As they passed his phone around, smiles grew into laughter and then chatter about what the trolls and haters might have for them in the next few hours. 

Well, not for them really, but for Gritty!

Gritty, the new character brand for the Philadelphia Flyers, was just introduced in the fall of 2018 to 300 elementary school kids at the Please Touch Museum, whose mission is to teach kids the importance of play. 

This day’s play came from a big, black and orange hairy beast who, as the story goes, was discovered living under the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers. His eyes were huge with disembodied pupils that swirled around in constant motion. His giant head was squished inside a hockey helmet that looked like it might pop off at any moment under the strain of a wild mop of orange hair. His gaping black cave of a mouth looked like it could devour anything within its reach. 

The perfect brand to attract children! Stephen King would be proud.

The unexpected success of Gritty, a character brand that in less than one week captured the hearts of 300 elementary schoolkids, the city of Philadelphia and then the world, driving over 8 billion dollars’ worth of earned media, can be credited to the Flyers following the process. Yes, Sixers fans, they too trusted the process!

They committed to the project with time and budget. Then they created an authentic back story, using elements from the history of the Flyers, Philadelphia and the sport of ice hockey.  Finally, they were fearless in committing to visual elements the story revealed and then celebrated the uniqueness of them and the character it created. 

I created this process by deconstructing the steps the Phillies followed when they unleashed a giant green furry Muppet to be their mascot in 1978. The Phillies created all kinds of unique, value-added entertainment to entice casual fans to fall in love with baseball. They were fearless in this pursuit. Their failures became just as famous as their successes. For hilarious proof, Google “Phillies Kite Man”! 

This process has helped hundreds of our other clients discover their own, unique living breathing brand extension. 

It is the same process we now engage in Power of Fun training to help leadership discover their own character brand living, undiscovered, inside of them. That character is inside all of us. We have to commit to finding it. Celebrate the uniqueness of it. Then fearlessly roll out our own character brand to attack your doubts and build great teams.  

Oh, and let’s hope you don’t scare the kids.