A White Squirrel Is Causing a Serious Branded Merchandise Problem for Western Kentucky University
The college football slate is intensifying, and collegiate hoops soon will commence, meaning that higher learning institutions across the country have many squirrelly matriculants who are hoping their teams will reward their rabid fandom. At Western Kentucky University, enrollees rely on the mascot Big Red to enhance their enjoyment, but they have also been calling upon branded merchandise inspired by the white squirrels that frequent their campus to show pride in their Hilltoppers and Lady Toppers squads.
However, it's Big Red—the more established, not to mention official, good-luck charm—that has the enduring approval of university officials. And, as such, the university directed the school bookstore to limit its white squirrel merchandise in preparation for an eventual discontinuation of the products, according to the WKU Herald.
WKU is in the process of removing white squirrel images from different areas of campus and the WKU Bookstore.https://t.co/1ux18yEhMf
— WKU Herald (@wkuherald) September 18, 2018
White squirrels enjoy clout throughout Bowling Green, Kentucky, leading to a humorous account of their origins and making them a huge part of life at the aforementioned school. Such is the regard that its alumni association had a Wally the White Squirrel mascot costume that, until its phasing out last year, had led to even more sales of promotional products such as hats, T-shirts and water bottles. The popularity of the squirrels and their hand (or paw) in compelling the student body to want to immortalize them, though, have begun to cause concern for the powers that be, who have said the growing infatuation could compromise current branding.
Western Kentucky's mascot Big Red has been called a cross between Elmo and Grimace. pic.twitter.com/83XQgorbCu
— Mental Floss (@mental_floss) March 23, 2013
We have been keen on squirrels since one gave a memorable performance in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” but we understand the thinking behind this. After all, thanks to our Philadelphia Flyers, we now have a mascot who is garnering national attention, so we appreciate Western Kentucky University’s wanting to emphasize Big Red (and Red Towel merchandise) over materials honoring the white squirrels. The date of the aforementioned discontinuation remains a mystery, and though that is sad news, students will likely be able to go nuts again in the near future, as the school’s marketing office is “exploring the possibility of creating an image of the white squirrel that is unique to WKU and that would be appropriately licensed for the university’s use within a defined set of parameters.” We are all “fur” that idea.