LACEY, WA— Lacey Pocket Gophers FC are holding a name-the-mascots contest for their two new pocket gopher pals. You can submit your name suggestions at NameOurGophers.com. The club is getting ready for their first season in the new adult elite amateur men’s soccer competition, the Western Washington Premier League (WWPL.)
They are spending time and effort to create a buzz and an image for their current and future fans. That’s why the pocket gopher mascots are out and about before any players are. Lacey FC Chairman of the Board Troy Kirby has big plans for his team and the kind of experience fans will have at their matches. He talked with goalWA.net about the two furry members of his squad and even gave us behind-the-scenes photos of how the gophers were ‘born.’ The mascots will call South Sound Stadium their home on match days.
“Mascots are part of any team’s community brand image – even if you are semi pro,” Troy begins. “They allow you to not only get into the community, but engage on a continual basis. Mascots also provide the ability for you to have imagery (photos/videos) that are sharable content. I have a game that I play with any potential sponsor where I will show them a picture of the mascot and ask them what they see. They often say “a pocket gopher or beaver or whatever” – I say “I see a billboard that people take selfies with, actively try to be in front of, and want to share on their social media.” It builds interest in your brand. The mascot (in our case, we have two) need to be round and fuzzy. Having some muscle dude or something with sharp teeth or a beak tends to scare kids off. You want kids engaging with the mascot. It helps tell sponsors that this is something that they want to align their brand with.”
Popping Up In Lacey
Kirby was in contact almost daily with the folks building the pocket gophers. His plan all a long has been to see them front and center for his new soccer club. “Since the day I showed photos of the mascot, I’ve had about 60 organizations ask us to come out. We’re already booking out the entire summer, beyond the matches themselves. It creates continual touch points that engage with people even if we don’t have a game.”
Match day might be once a week, but Thurston County events go year-round. Troy had that in mind when the club was named and mascots were ordered. “It also allows us access to areas such as festivals and fairs, malls, etc that would normally not allow us to distribute our information, tell people what we are doing. Plus, my 16-year-old niece Brooklyn has done a great job as one of the mascots (she’s our first employee) so this has been a great opportunity for both her and I to connect over how to make the mascots more “expressive, etc” – the game of soccer is only within the confines of a 2 hour window. It’s the fact that we can spread information that the 2 hour window exists, and get people’s interest, that builds a fan base that comes to watch the soccer matches.”
Name Those Pocket Gophers
So what will these pocket gophers be called? “We need help – so we set up NameOurGophers.com and we’re going to do some fun prizes for the most creative names,” Kirby says. “We don’t know their genders or anything, so everything is on the table. We’re even talking about a mascot wedding at halftime of one of our matches! What’s next in Lacey? “More to come on this,” Troy promises. “All of it should be an interactive fun way for people to embrace the brand, as well as the game around it.”