November 22, 2011
On Tuesday the team announced that its mascot of 15 years, Hip Hop, has "fallen in love, married, and will relocate to a rural part of Pennsylvania to start a family." Actual quote from the team's press release.
That is to say -- ear muffs, kids -- Hip Hop is out as 76ers mascot.
The always on-it Philadelphia Inquirer beat writer Kate Fagan spoke with new 76ers team owner Adam Aron about what apparently was a necessary change:
"Before we bought the team — in one of my first meetings in August with (managing owner) Josh Harris — we were comparing notes about our reactions to everything Philadelphia 76ers. Both of us, independently, came to the same conclusion: Hip Hop wasn't the right image for the team we wanted to create and the product we wanted to offer 76ers fans."
Aron then explained that there was "no fan support for the Hip Hop mascot," and that the "interest in this issue was considerable." Aron appeared on WIP radio and the first question was basically when can Hip Hop go away? (Although asked in a more colorful manner, I'm told.)
Then the Inquirer held an on-line poll asking fans if they wanted Hip Hop to remain as the team's mascot. Only 1 in 7 Philadelphia sports fans supported Hip Hop. Aron noticed. A few days later he Tweeted on his Twitter account (@SixersCEOAdam), asking fans why they didn't like the mascot. He said he received about 40 to 50 responses within an hour.
For a team that barely sells 40 to 50 tickets an hour during an actual season, that can be accurately described as a fevered response.
Aron and company haven't fully committed to a new mascot, or even to who will design the team's new child-frightener, but he did confirm that the team is in "advanced" discussions with Jim Henson's Creature Shop, according to his interview with Fagan.
"Ben Franklin is a human being and these mascots are usually more animals."
Indeed. And mascots are usually less, y'know … genres of music.