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Sports

Rhett gets a new look

Mascot makeover part of athletics rebranding campaign

Teaching an old dog new tricks

Rhett, the Boston University athletics mascot, has had a makeover. Over the past year, as part of an athletics department rebranding initiative, the Boston terrier’s ears have been shortened and the 83-year-old has said good-bye to the gray. His fur is now predominantly black.

Fans of BU athletics might also notice updated team jerseys and new logos on team merchandise, such as hats and T-shirts. Mike Lynch, vice president and director of athletics, says that when he was named to the post in 2004, he felt that BU needed to develop a fresh and unified presentation of its sports brand. “I noticed that we were using a number of different logos, colors, and fonts,” he says. “We needed to create a consistent look and feel.”

Lynch enlisted the help of the Boston advertising agency MMB, which is headed by alums Fred Bertino (CAS’81), president, and co–creative director Jamie Mambro (CGS’77). The two suggested a new look for Rhett, who can be found everywhere from coffee mugs to the signage in Agganis Arena.

Gone are the images BU’s top dog swimming, dribbling a basketball, or wielding a hockey stick. The new Rhett, his arms proudly folded, is depicted from the chest up. In Lynch’s opinion, he looks downright dignified, especially without his ears sticking comically out of his helmet, as was once the case. Rhett’s last upgrade was in 1997, when the mascot’s costume was redesigned to appear meaner and to look a bit less like Mickey Mouse.

In the primary athletics branding mark, which is being circulated on office stationery and other collateral materials, the snarling Rhett is superimposed in front of the letters BU, printed in the “yearbook” font (see image) instead of being encircled by the words “Boston University Terriers.” The font is also being used on the front of the men’s and women’s hockey team uniforms. “The arched ‘BOSTON’ logo, in capital letters, has a clean, classic look,” says Lynch. “We’re in the process of transitioning a third of our teams to this logo.”

The rebranding campaign has included the redesign of the department’s Web site, “to bring it into the 21st century,” says Lynch. The site now offers game recaps, up-to-date scores and statistics, and a link where viewers can download video footage of hockey games onto video iPods or their personal computers. The site’s prominent slogan “Excellence in athletics, academics, and community” reflects the athletics department’s extending its outreach to Boston neighborhood youth groups, including after school programming.

“The site has new features, such as a fan poll and more photos,” says Rebecca Collet, the associate athletics director for marketing communications. “We’re trying to enhance the fan experience in any way we can.”

In one more tweak that will be noticed by die-hard fans, the color black, which over the years has crept onto some BU teams’ uniforms, will be phased out, Lynch says, largely because Northeastern’s colors are black and red.

“With this rebranding initiative, the department has the chance to set itself apart from athletic programs across the country,” he says.