This spring, the Richmond spider mascot will likely be sprouting new legs. The University is looking for community input about how the next spider should look.
The decision to give the mascot a makeover began after the University community expressed concerns that the spider’s appearance wasn’t a strong representative of Richmond at home or on the road. To gauge general opinion of the current spider, the University’s athletics and communications departments teamed up to hold focus groups with students, alumni and senior leadership.
“Most people felt that he looked like an ant or a bug — not a spider,” says Samantha Tannich, design director for University Communications. “They really wanted him to have eight legs."
Alumni also weighed in on Facebook, starting a campaign to “Give Spidey His Legs Back!” Comments ranged from wanting “to be proud of their mascot as well as their team,” to thoughts on appearance, such as currently looking like “a wasp costume” or “an ant.”
During the summer, the University partnered with Rickabaugh Graphics — a collegiate branding firm, whose clients include Texas A&M University, North Carolina State University, Old Dominion University and Vanderbilt University — to begin the work of revamping the spider.
“The mascot needs to be attractive for students, fans and alumni, as well as kids,” says Jana Ross, assistant director of marketing for University of Richmond Athletics. “A new look will have a great impact on the University and our department when we’re out in the community and on the road for competitions.”
Tannich agrees. “We wanted to give him some attitude!”
After a winter of reviewing and tweaking concepts, Tannich and Ross are excited about the two options for the next face of the Spiders.
“The new designs are both very much spiders, each with eight legs,” says Tannich. “One is more of a ferocious warrior and the other is a more literal spider.”
To help make the decision, the University is asking fans to vote for their favorite new concept, or choose to keep the existing mascot. Voting will take place online from Feb. 23 to March 4.
Also on the ballot is the mascot’s name. During the redesign process, the University learned that the name “Spidey” — an informal name used in the past — is trademarked by Marvel Comics and not an option for the mascot’s permanent name. When choosing a new look, voters will also be able to submit up to four suggestions for a new moniker.
The University will announce the winner of the vote in May. The new spider will be unveiled June 4, welcoming alumni back to campus for Reunion.
Ross looks forward to seeing the results. “The mascot is one of the faces of the University,” she says, “and it will be great to have a spider that makes our fans proud.”