ASU responds to Sparky backlash

March 20, 2013

It seemed like a good idea three weeks ago. That’s when ASU rolled out the new and improved version of its iconic mascot, Sparky the Sun Devil. But the university announced Monday it's already planning to change the new version.

sparky The new Sparky mascot may be up for revision once a website collects student and alumni feedback. (Photo courtesy of ASU)

The old Sparky was born 67 years ago, but even though he may be eligible for Social Security, his supporters didn’t think he was out of date.

Some students created a YouTube video blasting the administration for not consulting students. Other critics blasted the look of the new version, especially the large eyes on the face.

Terri Shafer is with ASU’s office of public affairs, and she admits ASU was caught off guard.

"It came about in a different way than we expected and the best course of action for us was to step back and encourage more people to give us input than we had previously gotten," Shafer said.

She said there had been push back before, when ASU changed its pitchforklogo and the color of the football uniforms.

"This is somewhat different and I can’t exactly tell you why," Shafer said. "And that’s the reason to step back and take a pause."

Changing a logo or image can be risky. Matt Silverman is with R & R Partners, a marketing and advertising firm in Phoenix. His company was not involved in the Sparky change, but he has an idea why it was done.

"It’s part of freshening the image, part of looking modern, so I think part of the inspiration or motivation to change the image was partially financial, but here’s clearly a case where it backfired on them. But it will be curious to see where they go now," Silverman said.

ASU says it is creating an online site where supporters and critics can provide feedback on what the next version’s face will look like. That site should be ready by April 22. The school says the next new Sparky will be unveiled at the start of the football season in September.