Cocky cheers at a USC men’s basketball game in February. (Photo by Mingo Martin/Carolina News and Reporter)

If you watched the NCAA Tournament this year, you may have seen a familiar feathered face during the commercial breaks.

The South Carolina Gamecocks’ beloved mascot, Cocky, has appeared in many TV spots through the years.

He’s shown up in one of Nissan’s 2024 “March Madness” commercials most recently.

The University of South Carolina and Cocky aren’t new to the Nissan family.

Former Heisman winner and USC running back George Rogers has appeared in many Heisman House commercials wearing his Gamecocks jersey.

Cocky appeared in the 2023 editions of Nissan’s March Madness commercials as well as a couple of the Rogers’ Heisman House ads.

Deals for the mascot’s appearance in commercials are managed by national marketing company Learfield and USC brand representative Gamecock Sport Properties.

Discussions between Learfield and Nissan began in late fall 2023, with storyboards and scripts sent out in December.

Nissan began by having initial discussions with its primary ad agency, NissanUnited, and Learfield.

NissanUnited then prepared TV commercials, online videos, social media concepts and other stunts.

Nissan marketing and NissanUnited worked together to select a director and production team. Wayne McClammy, a director with Hungry Man Productions, was chosen for 2024.

As Nissan handled the logistics of securing mascots, talent, and sets, Learfield began working with the university to approve Cocky’s appearance.

Kimberly Elchlepp, public relations coordinator for Learfield, said an official Cocky mascot and handler was sent out for the January shoot/ And the commercial went through rounds of edits between the schools involved up until the March release, she said.

A “handler” is a person “out of costume” who helps communicate to the person “in costume” what people want and vice-versa.

“Typically these edits are minor, considering the schools’ involvement from end-to-end of this process, including the school’s approval of the script and individual mascot portrayal,” wrote Mya Gentile, who’s with corporate communications personnel for Nissan of America, in an email.

Taylor Diveley, lifelong Gamecock fan and Columbia resident, says Cocky’s appearance on the national stage is incredible.

“That commercial comes on several times every big sporting event. That’s millions of eyes,” Diveley said.

Many USC fans like the exposure it gives their athletics department, especially over rival Clemson.

“Seeing Cocky on the national stage, whether it be the Nissan Heisman House or March Madness commercials, is great exposure for every Gamecock,” said Thomas Floyd, a USC fan. “We have a unique mascot. It being shown to everyone in the country just shows how unique we are. There are a lot of tigers, but only one Cocky.”

Cocky goes through Gamecock Walk on Parents Weekend with his “mom.” (Photo by Mingo Martin/Carolina News and Reporter)

Cocky waves to the crowd during the USC Women’s Basketball championship parade. (Photo by Myles Harris/Carolina News and Reporter)