He’s become something of an unofficial mascot for the United States national team, doing interviews with MTV and appearing next to Will Ferrell in the lead up to the Germany game in Recife on Thursday. He spurred U.S. supporting Twitter users to change their avatars and names, and is the darling of World Cup TV studio crews everywhere.
Teddy Goalsevelt is a character invented by Chicago-based USMNT fan Mike D’Amico, modeled after the rugged outdoorsman who was the 26th president of the United States. But some believe the character, who first won fame after appearing on ESPN audience shots during USA-Ghana game, is a marketing invention.
Those accusations have come in light of a story which appeared on Ad Age yesterday. It tells the story of how D’Amico, an associate creative director for ad agency Calvary, invented the Goalsevelt character and went to Brazil to support his team.
But it also mentions a fund-raising effort to help keep him there:
Then [D’Amico] and Cavalry started working on extending his stay, asking fans for funds to keep Mr. D'Amico in Brazil, positioning the request as a way to help the U.S. team out.
"We here at Cavalry, the advertising agency where Teddy (Mike D'Amico) works, see him as the team's mascot now," the agency said on a GoFundMe post. "And we don't think we're alone."
The agency promised to match every dollar donated up to $2,500. It's not clear why the agency didn't just fund the extended trip itself, but it found plenty of takers, not to mention publicity, with the hashtag #TeddyinBrazil.
So what’s going on? Is D’Amico a marketing invention meant to promote his agency?
There’s no suggestion that’s the case. Rather, it’s clear D’Amico’s agency saw an opportunity for a feel-good grassroots campaign (donations above $5000 will go to charity) to keep a popular fan supporting the United States in Brazil, one that also happened to shine a positive light on Calvary.
Journalist and Howler editor Alexander Abnos, who spoke with D’Amico in Brazil, says he believes D’Amico’s support, and character, are genuine and that the fundraising stunt wasn't his idea.
Even so, Calvary may want to tread lightly here, not only to maintain good PR, but also to avoid running foul of FIFA’s strict Brand Protection policy which targets “guerilla marketing” inside FIFA stadiums.
But in the meantime, you can love Teddy knowing that he really is just a soccer-loving Chicagoan presidential lookalike living in the dream along with Klinsmann’s team.