Franklin was introduced yesterday at, naturally, the Franklin Institute and the kids loved him!
By Sarah Berkowitz
The Sixers’ transition from the bad old days when Ed Snider owned the team, which sucked almost as much as the mascot, is now complete.
Team officials met with the kids in groups and started by showing them about 40 designs to get a sense of the cohort’s general tastes. Some of those designs were already in existence — actual mascots, superheroes, and other known characters, McDermott says. Some were original renderings. There were multiple Ben Franklins and other characters that played on Philly’s colonial and Revolutionary history.
The team asked the kids everything: Should the mascot have fur? What color should it be? Should it dunk? Should it be tall? Fat? Short?
The team revised designs and narrowed the field after each round of meetings with local kids. Ben Franklin was out, but dogs were in. The kids liked fluffy things and blue things, and the Sixers zeroed in on the Franklin character. It was among two finalists; McDermott won’t disclose the other, but he says he had guessed the kids would have chosen it over Franklin the dog. They didn’t, and so the Sixers’ on-court representative will be a big, furry, blue dog called Franklin. Ben Franklin himself might not be of much interest to young children, but the Sixers are at least naming the mascot for him.
Franklin will not have a last name or some funked-out middle initial. He is not Franklin D. Dogg. He is just Franklin, and we are thankful for that bit of understatement.
He will dribble, and dunk, and do all the crazy stunts fans expect of mascots now, McDermott says. He won’t need a sleek alternate costume for those things; the fluffy one is designed to accommodate full mascot freedom.
And in great news for people who enjoy objectively great things, there will be an inflatable Franklin.
Franklin will be the third mascot in Sixers franchise history, after Hip-Hop and the long-departed Big Shot — a fuzzy blue cousin of the Phanatic. He is part of an effort by the Sixers new-ish owners, who bought the team in 2011, to amp up the in-arena experience. They invested in one of those cool 3-D courts, resurrected one of the all-time campy team theme songs in sports, revamped the dance team, and finally replaced Hip-Hop. A cynic might point out that a franchise in Year 2 of an unprecedented multiyear tanking scheme is exactly the sort of franchise that should distract fans with wizardry, but the magical mascoting world is no place for cynicism.