Kingsley – The Angry Football Mascot With A Global PR Reach

by Brian Lewis

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The new king of public relations has a monobrow

Scary football mascot Kingsley generated huge media coverage for Partick ThistleAT HOLYROOD PR we love telling business stories and we admire when a good idea is milked to saturation point to gain as much coverage as possible.

Therefore, we’ve been tipping our collective caps to Partick Thistle Football Club for having the belief, brass-neck and serious cojones to reveal their new mascot to the world – and we mean the world.

Kingsley has been labelled the planet’s most controversial sporting mascot due to his less than child-friendly demeanour and generally angry persuasion. While many accused the club of not thinking about the children Kingsley may send into therapy, we applauded as the coverage from Kingsley’s unveiling – and the resulting social media reaction – went global.

The mascot, who has been compared to Lisa Simpson or Sponge Bob Square Pants on drugs was designed by life-long Jag (Partick fan) and Turner Prize nominated artist David Shirgley, who was asked to create Kingsley by the clubs new main sponsors, California-based investment advisory firm, Kingsford Capital Management.

The Kingsley factor in stats

Media coverage about the angry-looking mascot went ballistic while the yellow-coloured character also went uber-viral across social media platforms around the world.  Kingsley’s vital PR statistics (at time of writing) based on on-line sources were:

More than 300 news articles from across the UK alone, with similar reach into other corners of the world including the New Zealand Times, The Washington Post and a major hit on CNN online.

Meanwhile in Social Mediaville, #Kingsley had been used by 549 users for 702 posts reaching a potential audience of 4,206,966.

For a football mascot to get this kind of reach normally takes a full blown fight between the two teams life-sized cuddly toys on match day or the mask being taken off to reveal a huge celebrity.

Hats off to the team at Partick, when it comes to coverage, Kingsley has been a master stroke. He stands out as a great example of what can be achieved by having the courage to take a different stance and to tough it in the face of criticism. In this case it put the brand awareness figures for Partick Thistle and Kingsford Capital through the roof.

Partick Thistle is selling T-shirts of scary new mascot KinglseyThe innovative team at Firhill, the home of the Jags, are now using the enormous buzz to sell Kingsley T-shirts and who knows what other merchandise is coming next? (We’re guessing onesies).

Comparisons and follow up articles

As with all stories of this nature there have been some great follow up articles while the Twittersphere has enjoyed a host of look-a-like suggestions. Here are my  favourite follow ups and tweets:

The numerous tweets about Kingsley have seen him labelled as the lovechild of Lisa Simpson and Sloth from the Goonies and an evil Pokemon. Others (including betting firm Paddy Power) said it was a great anti-drug advert likening the mascot to SpongeBob on Meth.

Scottish football website Only an Excuse went for: “Do you remember the baby in the Tellytubbies? You won’t believe how much she’s grown up!”

And one Glasgow parent, responding to the concerns that the mascot was too scary for kids, tweeted: “I’m sure the weans will learn to love it after they have their therapy after the first meeting.”

Creator, David Shirley, got straight to the point in his tweet:


Knowing your audience and client base

While all this ‘Glasgow banter’ is great to read, the fact of the matter is that Partick have not only been bold, they appear to have planned and delivered this Sales & Marketing campaign brilliantly.

Kingsley was actually preceded by the new club strapline (or in this case battle-cry), “Not so Cuddly Anymore” to help with season ticket sales as the Jags enter their third season in the top flight of Scottish football on a stronger financial footing than ever.

The club has always lived in the shadows of its giant neighbours Celtic and Rangers and perhaps has not been taken seriously by the rest of Scottish football. Now It is clear the club is looking to step out of that shadow and Kingsley is a key part in the club’s new brand.

Partick have an average home attendance of 5000 loyal fans, while many more don’t attend the games. Those who have fed back on social media have been hugely positive about their new ambassador and they seem to be right behind the aggressive campaign.

The club appears to have a good understanding of its client base and is also well aware that the Scottish media and the football loving public will lap up the chance for harmless banter – resulting in PR gold.

Find out how you can get successful PR for your business

Admittedly not everyone can call on the services of a successful and lauded artists to help turn their PR success into a worldwide phenomenon.

However that doesn’t mean your business has to languish in the shadows. Indeed  many businesses wrongly think their work is too serious or dry to attract media or social media attention. Having a Shrigley-inspired mascot certainly helps, but it’s not the only way to tell interesting stories that engage readers and give people something to discuss. Adding some humour also goes a long, long way.

Scottish public relations agency Holyrood PR in Edinburgh offers a guide to sexy PR for any businessOur public realtions agency has won multiple awards – and much of that is because of the creative ideas we’ve come up with to help businesses to make their stories sexy enough for media coverage. Indeed you can check out some of those success stories in our guide, Sexy PR.


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    Public relations account director with Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

    Private: Brian Lewis

    Brian Lewis is part of the expert PR team at Holyrood PR, a multi award-winnning Scottish public relations agency, which offers media relations, social media, photography, video, crisis management and PR in Edinburgh.

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