Buoy, a marine troll inspired in part by Seattle’s iconic Fremont Troll, showed up before the Kraken play the Vancouver Canucks in a pre-season game at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday and will soon be appearing at venues across the city.
The character looks like a lifelike Troll doll. He’s clearly a hockey player, wearing a Seattle jacket, crack-tooth smile and flowing hairstyle. Look closely, and you will find an anchor earring. Claws in his hair hint at an encounter with the Kraken.
He lives under the yard,” said Katie Townsend, Kraken’s chief marketing officer. “His favorite meal is a shark bite with a sprig of maple leaves, and he’s pretty much a musician, so I think we’ll see a lot of dances and beatboxes and grunge inspired by the Seattle music scene.”
The Kraken, which joined the NHL as an expansion team last season, has focused on authenticity, a sense of place and connection to the community while building their brand. They had a “reason” for everything they did.
The first question they asked themselves about the amulet was whether they should have one at all. The answer was yes for a simple reason.
“I’ll say it wasn’t something we really sought out right away, but with this organization we’ve always listened to our fans, and our fans really wanted to get mascots,” said Lamont Buford, Kraken’s deputy. Head of Entertainment and Production Experience. “By listening to them, we decided to start the process to get our character.”
The process took two years and included internal research, external assistance, and focus groups.
The Kraken brand is dark and mysterious. By design, you don’t actually see a sea monster, just tentacles here or a red eye there, which makes you wonder what exactly lies in the depths.
The team wanted something softer that represented the brand in a positive light, something child-friendly that could be an ambassador for places like schools and hospitals.
“A lot of people would have said, ‘Well, obviously it’s just going to be a Kraken,'” Townsend said. One of the brand’s values is its mystery. We don’t want to be a cartoon brand and have a kraken cartoon representing us.”
So, if it’s not kraken, then what?
“It was like, ‘OK, what do we want Seattle to be like?'” Buford said. “
Townsend said Kraken never considered adopting Squatch, the beloved Seattle Supersonics’ Sasquatch mascot of the NBA, although they did consider why Squatch was so successful and took inspiration from his hair.
Sonic played under the same roof that Kraken does now before it became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. The roof was held in place while the KeyArena was demolished and Climate Pledge Arena built underneath. The hope is that the new arena that brought in the NHL will bring back the NBA as well.
“We think the Sonics will come back to Seattle,” Townsend said. “Squatch belongs to Sonic, and we hope that Squatch and Buoy will be friends in the future.”
So, if not a kraken, if not a squash, then what?
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After considering several options, Kraken narrowed it down to about 10 and built it. Finally, they settled on the sea dwarf.
The Fremont Troll is an 18-foot-high statue made in 1990 under the George Washington Memorial Bridge in the Fremont neighborhood. It’s holding an actual Volkswagen Beetle as if it had grabbed it straight from the road, which was renamed Troll Street under the bridge in 2005.
The idea of a dwarf living under a bridge comes from Scandinavian folklore, like the idea of the Kraken dragging ships into the depths.
But what about the name?
The buoy floated to the surface, to match the nautical theme. Fans salute the goalkeeper Philip Grubauer with “Gruuu!” Buoy might turn the boos into “Boo-wee!”
“There was a lot of stuff we looked at, and that just stopped,” Buford said. “that was good.”
Another question was when the amulet should first appear.
The Kraken did a lot last season – uniforms, coaches, players, arena, training facility – and they wanted to give everything some breathing time. Also, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the mascot was not able to interact with people normally.
Now that Kraken has entered its second season and COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed, it’s time.
“Once we got to where we could start building the character, we slowed it down,” Buford said. We said, ‘This isn’t something that should get out of the gate too quickly. “
“I didn’t realize our process was going to take this long, but good things come to those who wait, so we waited, and we really think that’s going to be a good thing for us.
“You will see the character walking around, cuddling, giving a hug, giving prizes. It will be an extension of our brand, and a huge fan ambassador for us will allow us to touch more people.”