A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NKU’s Victor E. Viking gets a makeover for kinder, friendlier look; not everyone is happy, of course

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Staff report

Victor E. Viking, the official mascot for NKU’s Norse athletic teams, got a quiet rollout recently, via a press release on the Department of Athletics site and a post on its Facebook page.

But the reaction has been anything but quiet on the Northern Kentucky University Athletics Facebook page, which earned more than 120 comments already — and most of them bordering on outrage.

Victor, the new

Victor, the new

“We aimed to create a Victor who is more friendly and approachable, and to soften his demeanor,” said Brandon Hays, assistant athletic director for marketing, promotions and tickets. “While it was certainly fun to be mentioned as the 9th scariest mascot in the nation by ESPN, we hope the updates to Victor won’t be quite so frightening to our younger fans.”

Victor’s refreshed style aligns him with the athletic department’s comprehensive brand identity standards, which were released last spring. Hays said that images of the new Victor were included in that report posted on the department’s web page.

The most noticeable changes come in Victor’s facial features. He has softened green eyes and a gentle smile on his face. He has also kept his trademark mustache, but the braids in his hair were removed to show Victor’s flowing gold mane.
 
The made-over Victor sports a helmet, shield and sword, as well as a cape that features the primary NKU Norse logo on the back.

Victor, the old.  Still appears on the Victor E. Viking Facebook page

Victor, the old. Still appears on the Victor E. Viking Facebook page

The changes were an outcome, Hays explained, of a process to create an athletics brand standard involving a committee of athletics staff personnel and members of the University’s Marketing and Communications department.

Last fall, the group conducted a survey on brand identity which drew feedback from a total of 260 respondents — students, faculty, staff and alumni. Admittedly not a big number. Hays says they made every effort to get more responses to the survey.

Of three questions in the survey related to Victor, about 33% equally responded “strong” and “amateur” to “What is your first impression of the mascot Victor E. Viking? To the question “On a scale of 1-5, is the current mascot Victor E. Viking worthy of a Division 1 Conference,” nearly 30% said “very worthy” and 10% said “not worthy at all.”

To the question “Would an update to the mascot Victor E. Viking influence your loyalty as an NKU Athletics fan?” 50% said “not at all,” while 25% responded “somewhat” and 15% said “very much.” Ten percent had no opinion.

On the basis of these responses, the group moved ahead with developing a new image and then on to commissioning a new costume — without any further testing or focus group input. The department worked with the Olympus Group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to complete the updated costume.
 
The old Victor costume had been used since 2005; because its features had worn down, Hays said, a new costume was needed anyway.

Victor E. Viking regularly makes appearances at community events in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region. To make a request, complete this form. Hays said the new Victor has already made four different appearances.

Victor E. Viking has a new look!

Here are sample responses to the department’s Facebook page about the new Victor. See them all on Facebook.

Madison Staggs noooooooooo

Blaze Bolden I think I’m the only person that isn’t bothered by it lol

Anthony Leanhart The logo and mascot are both terrible now

Jeff Yu Give me back my Victor, not his skinny little brother:

Tiffany Marie Harris I went to NKU and my daughter used to love her some Victor! I showed her this video and she said yeahhh who is that? Thats not my victor! Lol from the mouth of a 5 yr old

Bryan Ganulin Thanks, now I have to explain to people I went to NKU when the mascot was cool.

Kendall Ross ……this is why people give me a weird look when I say NKU, its hard to defend my school when they do stuff like this.

Mary Catherine Leanhart I like the old one much better!

Lauren White A mascot and logo doesn’t change my experience or opinion of NKU. Norse Pride

Rebecca Potzner Lookin good, Victor

Shaun Abbott Sad.. There was nothing wrong with Victor

Jessica Keefe Last time I checked Victor was fine the way he was…this is what to much plastic surgery will do in the hands of a bad Doctor. Bad choice NKU!

Ashley Nicole Jackson Omg. This is awful

Jordan Michel Brown This is actually horrendous. Wtf NKU?

John Sullivan This looks so cheesy.

Gary Harper I’ve been to so many NKU sporting events and I have not once ever seen little kids get scared by the old Victor. Ridiculous

Mark Csolkovits This is bad. Just bad.

Adam Marcum Norse down… Terrible decision by people who must have vision impairment…

Almithra Daroga Anyone else think this victor looks like the Burger King guy but blonde?

Christina Torok Seriously NKU, there was nothing wrong with Victor and now you changed him and he looks terrible….disappointed 😒

Lauren White A mascot and logo doesn’t change my experience or opinion of NKU. Norse Pride!

Mac Wilburn Is Burger King gonna sue nku now? Cause they look so alike!

Ania Zmyslo Was no research was taken before making this decision? Most of us hate this.

Shae McKee Oh look another bad decision by nku…

Joseph Fons As someone who had the great honor of playing Victor E. Viking for Northern Kentucky University between 2009 and 2012, I must express my disappointment in the unveiling of the new costume.

Aliser Thorne The new mascot looks like a bloody wildling my brothers of the Night’s Watch encounter north of The Wall. No creativity, lack of vision. Winter is Coming! For the Watch!

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13 Comments

  1. Paul Webster says:

    Instead of a skinny, half-starved looking viking, they should have designed a new version of Bozo the Clown because that’s what type of people are making decisions at NKU. It’s comical how they continue to be so incompetent in everything they do. I noticed they used a company from Wisconsin? That’s because the AD Bothof is from Wiscosnin, he is spending money from Kentucky to his buddies in Wisconsin. Like when he brought his buddies Dan McIver and Debbie Kirch down here to work at NKU from Green Bay. How much did NKU pay this company for this new homeless-man design? Mearns says NKU is broke and needs more state dough, yet they pay good Ky. money for this garbage? Maybe Mearns is trying to deflect the attention away from all the sexual assaults on campus with this comedy of a mascot.

    • Jim Smith says:

      You are the one always trying to rain on our parade, bringing up negatives. I also noticed this newspaper did not put any of the positive comments from our Facebook page about Victor the new. The Tribune only printed the negative comments, most of those from trolls and people with agendas like the guy who was the former mascot. I personally love the new design, great for children and a more dignified look for our program is On The Rise in the Horizon League. The decision-making is fine and President Geoff Mearns loves the new mascot. The old mascot looked fat and out of shape, this new Victor is lean and more human for the kids. Why you keep bringing up Mr. McIver and Ms. Kirch is beyond my understanding. These are two of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Yes, they cam from Wisconsin with Mr. Bothof, but so what? Do you think the people at UK complain that Coach Calipari brings in people he knew at other schools to help him be successful? Mr. Bothof has done the same and now has his administrative team totally in place. The others he inherited were from a small college program, not ready for this level of NCAA rules and requirements. Victor the new is here, and we are On the Rise. Norse Up!

      • Judy Clabes says:

        Mr. Smith — We went back to try to find “positive” comments from the Facebook page. There were only three that might qualify. We did include one of them (which would be representative, given the numbers) but we will add the other two. For your information, here are the three: Lauren White A mascot and logo doesn’t change my experience or opinion of NKU. Norse Pride; Rebecca Potzner Lookin good, Victor; Blaze Bolden I think I’m the only person that isn’t bothered by it lol

        • Jim Smith says:

          Ha! You admit you did not print all the positive comments! It proves you do have a personal grudge against President Mearns and our school! But you printed all the negative comments, proves my point. Keep trying to bring us down to your level. I notice your unicorn stories about the supposed sexual assaults has disappeared. Just like a unicorn should! Norse Up!

          • Judy Clabes says:

            No, sir, we did no such thing. We did not print all the comments, period. We linked to all the comments. There were over 100 comments — and only three “positive” ones at the time we did the story. We published a very small sample of them — and included one positive comment in the original posting. That is a fair proportion by anyone’s measure. Just takes simple math. As it is now, with 100 percent of the positive comments now posted, the positives are represented well out of proportion to the whole. How silly. We have plenty of positive stories about NKU as well — way out of proportion to any that might be considered “negative.” Both descriptions are pretty subjective. Would you argue that when we have a story about NKU losing a game, that’s negative, so we should only print the stories about the winning games? The controversy over the new mascot is not our doing — we reported the facts and explained to everyone just how the the process worked, thanks to Brandon Hays for explaining it to us. If some people are not satisfied with it, that is how it is. Our “unicorn” stories as you childishly describe sexual assault have not “gone away” — they still can be found on our site if anybody wants to see them. And we’ll report again as the situation calls for it. It’s working its way through the courts. When there is news, we will have it.

      • Ty Adams says:

        Jim Smith – Your routine is getting stale. Your stupidity is reflected by pointing out no positives are used by the paper because there weren’t any! P. Webster keeps bringing up McIver and his wife Kirch cause everyone needs to know about the underhanded hiring practices used by Bothof when all three of them came from Wisconsin. There were some good people passed over so he could hire this ex-volleyball coach from Green Bay, a grievance was filed about it too. A former HR lady told me the story about the whole thing. So keep your “Norse Up!” pride swelling for all to see Jim Smith. Some of us know what’s really going on at NKU, and I’m not just talking about this dumpster fire of a mascot. And sure enough, the company that made this fragile-looking mascot is from Wisconsin. Just like Bothof, McIver, Kirch. Three stooges if ever I saw three.

  2. Brandi Ellison says:

    Well, I have been consistent in my defense of my colleagues at NKU. But I must admit this new mascot is less-than-noble in its appearance. No one ever said a word in our neck of the woods about a mascot change, this is disappointing to me. I loved the old mascot’s look and energy. This new design is just terrible. As a person of color, I am also offended by the lack of cultural inclusiveness this new mascot presents. I would hope and expect President Mearns to step in an address this issue ASAP.

    • Jim Smith says:

      Brandi: What does cultural inclusiveness have to do with a viking mascot? Come on, that’s below the belt and unnecessary. All vikings were from Iceland and those countries, so this isn’t about ethnicity or anything. If you don’t like it because of the appearance, that is your opinion and you have a right to one. Most os campus was alerted by Brandon Hays and our marketing team last spring. I am sorry you do not like him, but you will get used to Victor the new. Norse Up!

    • Latisha Byrd says:

      I disagree with you about not the new mascot being culturally inclusive. I would think the LGBTQ offices at NKU will be very pleased with this mascot’s look, he sure looks like he’s not a ladies man if you know what I mean. How’s that for diversity and cultural inclusiveness! Only at NKU could this happen, they are having Michael Sam there to speak this month and this mascot will feel right at home with Michael and vice versa.

      • Jim Smith says:

        Our LGBTQ administrators should be proud of the new Victor, he appeals to a broad spectrum of people. I’m glad to see you are on board! I’m surprised the Tribune allowed a positive comment about our new mascot! Norse Up!

  3. Sharon Laumann says:

    The new mascot is not exactly macho-looking, that’s for sure! He looks like he is very hungry and painfully thin. Maybe NKU can partner with a fast-food chain and get the new Victor some food. Or maybe he can start lifting weights? NKU could buy some balloons and stuff them inside his arms to at least make him look manly. lol

  4. Rene says:

    Is it a little creepy to have a happy, smiling, friendly looking Viking who is swinging a sword at you? Seems like it’s sending conflicting messages.

    That said, if you have been watching Speechless, you know it could have been worse – they could have gone from Viking to sea slug.

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