Update: 11 a.m. 10/30 – WUFT News staff and audience members have seen the Perry ad continue to run on local broadcast and cable stations over the weekend and early this week. We will follow up on this story.
Original story:Gator fans may enjoy Albert the alligator’s game-day antics and devotion to his school and teams, yet a recent campaign ad implying the mascot’s political persuasion was no laughing matter for the group controlling his appearances.
In the ad, the daughters of State Representative Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) explain why voters should elect for their father, who is running for the District 21 seat instead the District 22 seat he holds.
After about 10 seconds, Keith, Alexis and Amanda Perry do “the wave” in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium next to a seated Albert to show the representative is a Gator fan.
Martin Salamone, the University Athletic Association assistant athletics director for marketing and promotions, said the association has asked the Perry campaign to stop airing the ad, which was brought to his attention by WUFT News.
The Perry campaign has since removed the ad from its YouTube account. The campaign did not respond to three phone calls and an email.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said she was unaware of Albert’s appearance and the university doesn’t endorse political candidates.
UF faculty and staff, however, have the right to support candidates of their choosing, she said.
An example would be Daniel E. Canfield Jr., a UF fisheries and aquatic sciences professor, who donated $100 on June 21 and $250 on Sept. 11 to the Perry campaign, according to the Florida Division of Elections’ campaign finance database. A Kevin Allen, who also lists his profession as “professor” appears on the list of Perry contributors.
Salamone said the athletic association controls Albert’s appearances, which are restricted mostly to athletic and charitable events.
The two-second Albert clip originally came from a video Perry starred in earlier this year for the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. In the video, Perry and his daughters promote local businesses, and Albert appears during a segment on university sports.
Salamone said featuring Albert and Ben Hill Griffin in promotional material without permission is common, but usually happens with businesses. He said while people own their photos and video, the mascot and stadium are intellectual properties owned by the university, and therefore their usage is controlled by UF.
He said he understands the companies’ mistake and historically hasn’t had a problem with getting offenders to remove the ads.
For the Chamber of Commerce video featuring the original Albert clip, Salamone said the mascot was used for free.
Though the athletic association would usually charge for such an appearance, Salamone said the university has a partnership with the Chamber and thought the video’s subject, support local business, was an appropriate use for Albert.
The cost of booking Albert for events falls under two three categories, according to Gatorzone.com.
Company events cost $350 an hour and UF-related events, such as ones organized by colleges, and local fundraisers pay $250 an hour. An autographed poster is another $30.
Charities and elementary schools get one free appearance a year. Schools pay $50 and charities pay $250 an hour for each additional appearance.
The price goes up if one requests additional members of the UF Spirit Teams, which includes Albert’s female counterpart, Alberta, the UF cheerleaders and the UF Dazzlers dance team. A $5 request fee is charged for all pricings, according to Gatorzone.com.
Albert will not appear outside Alachua County, however, he is available for birthdays.
Albert requires two 10 minute breaks an hour and requests must be sent two weeks before the event but no more than four months before, according to Gatorzone.com.
Salamone said he was fine with Albert appearing with Perry in the chamber ad because the state representative and Perry Roofing Contractors president appeared in the video as a local businessman, not as a politician.
But Salamore disagreed with the Perry campaign using Albert for the political ad.
“I just don’t think that’s an appropriate place for our mascot.”