As I wrote yesterday, anyone who didn’t expect Cubs fans – particularly those on a self-selective medium like Twitter – to rip on any new mascot* the team would have revealed hasn’t been paying attention over the last few years. The fans, as an accretive mass, are pissed off about an interminably crappy team, and if you give them something easy to focus on, especially during an otherwise quiet offseason, they are going to pile on like rabid dogs. The good-spirited ribbing, to me, was fine. But it got really nasty. Call me an apologist for bear mascots that visit kids, but I’m down with what the Cubs are trying to do here. Building a future fan base is important.
*(Actually, make that anything the Cubs do that isn’t signing a superstar player for $100 million, or trading for a superstar (without giving up any top prospects). Even then, I’m not so sure. “Not Ellbury! I wanted Choo! Don’t trade that 25-year-old Boise left fielder! He’s got upside! My shoes are too tight!”)
And, since Cubs management isn’t as stupid as many of those rabid dogs would have you believe, they did expect the Clark backlash. Cubs VP of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green told Jesse Rogers that the strong reactions were “predictable,” even if some of the photoshopping that happened – yeah, he’s probably talking about Deadspin* – was pretty bad. The good news, I think, is that Green says the Cubs know that Twitter is a “boisterous” platform, and not “a bell-weather for things we’re trying to accomplish. Nor should it be for any company.” Quite right. While Twitter and/or other social media are important for teams to monitor and keep a pulse on things (also, some pretty nifty and important ideas spread on Twitter), they are not necessarily a great way to judge your business’s success. Look no further than FacebookCubs to see what I mean.
*(For those who haven’t seen – and I’m not particularly inclined to link to it – you can imagine what folks might do to a cartoon bear that isn’t wearing any pants. I have an extremely broad sense of humor, but it’s not hard for me to see why the Cubs would be bothered that people were doing nasty things to a picture of kid-like bear cub that is designed to be a mascot for kids.)
And now the Cubs will face some backlash for being disappointed about parts of the backlash, and the cycle can start anew.