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Mascots set to provoke debate

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Roger Mosey | 14:53 UK time, Monday, 17 May 2010

More than a million people on the London 2012 database will be receiving emails very soon telling them about the next landmark in the Olympic story. This time it's not about tickets or venues: rather, it's about what will have one of its manifestations as a cuddly toy. Yes, the mascots are going to be unveiled later this week.

With due respect to the seriousness with which this week's launch is being handled, mascots should be more about the fun side of London 2012. I was of a generation that recognised determined-looking lion World Cup Willie as a lasting image of 1966; and Zakumi, allegedly a leopard, will shortly be unavoidable as the symbol of South Africa 2010.

Willie was a pioneer for major sporting events, and the Olympics rapidly followed the way of football. By the time we got to Beijing in 2008 there was a whole family of the critters, one of the more surreal moments of the Games coming at the diving where the bursts of music in-between the competitors were accompanied by demented poolside dancing from the mascots.

But we should not mock. Mascots provoke debate, and ours is about to begin. I should say that the mascot is chosen by the London organising committee - Locog - and this is an area they alone run.

Athena and Phevos were the unusual mascots of the Athens Games in 2004
Athena and Phevos were the unusual mascots of the Athens Games in 2004

The BBC, however, will be telling the story of the launch, and you can expect to learn about how the mascot came into being on our radio programmes on Wednesday morning, followed by what should be the first sighting of the mascot on "The One Show" on Wednesday at 7pm. I'll make sure we post something here too.

It's now too late now to affect the design, but feel free to add any thoughts at this stage. What do you think the measure of success should be? There's speculation about the names and, although the die seems to be cast, let us know if there's anything you love or hate.

I think we can safely say they won't be known as Miga, Quatchi or Sumi since they were the guys in Vancouver; but that still leaves an infinite number of other choices.

We will find out what the organisers went with in less than 48 hours.


  • Comment number 1.

    I never really get the fuss about the mascots, especially at the Olympics where they're generally kept hidden away. They're only there for merchandising at the end of the day.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's a view, Brekkie. But I don't think the intention is to keep this one hidden...

  • Comment number 3.

    I hope they're allowed to, erm, express themselves, like Berlino the bear at last year's Athletics World Championships in Berlin.

    Couldn't for the life of me understand why the commentary team seemed to take such a dislike to him. He was very entertaining!

  • Comment number 4.

    I agree with Teffers. Steve Cram in particular hated Berlino the Bear but he was enormous fun and everything that a mascot should be!

  • Comment number 5.

    If we follow the precedent set by the logo - which despite assurances to the contrary, the public have still not "taken to their hearts" - we'll have another embarrassing meaningless mess, poorly reflecting the modern diverse nature of our games.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mascots have to be entertaining and with great merchandising potential. When I was in Johannesburg in April everything from keyrings, t-shirts, fast food restaurants etc were covered in Zakumi - he was everywhere! It's a great character though, brightly-coloured, and it definitely appealed to the kids I saw in the shop at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, hugging a lifesize version! Berlino The Bear was hilarious, I'd love to replicate that. You definitely need someone with a good sense of humour in the suit to bring the character to life. As long as they don't try and go with awful day-glo colours, in line with the 2012 logo, then it won't be too bad. There are plenty of options but I vote for Bertie The Badger! ;o)

  • Comment number 7.

    It will be difficult to top Berlino the Bear - he was hilarious. I think the BBC commentators were out of touch on that subject as everyone I know loved him & Cram; Foster & Co came across as a bunch of Killjoys.

    At the end of the day the mascot is only a bit of fun and shouldn't be taken too seriously either way.

  • Comment number 8.

    what honestly will they choose-lion or some other patriotic animal-or a human based mascot???

    to be honest i wouldnt mind doing it

  • Comment number 9.

    I for one am hoping for a mascot Q&A on the day they or it come into our collective lives!

    What are there hopes and dreams, who do they want to see win or loose, who are the next big stars going to be? and more inportantly what type of breakfast cereal do they like to eat!

    Who really care what they look like so long as they have a good personality and at least in some part reflect the country the are supposed to mascoting for!

  • Comment number 10.

    Surely a Lion variant is all we need, with a good name of course...

  • Comment number 11.

    Let's just hope the mascot isn't as much of a mess as the appalling logo that the games have been saddled with.

    Maybe as a symbol of London it should be a bunch of Merchant Bankers!

  • Comment number 12.

    It might sound boring and cliched, but it has to be a lion. If they want to make it a bit more interesting they could make it a lion cub to symbolise new horizons yadda yadda yadda, or make it a lioness, because such a simple difference would still be noticed. It's an obvious choice and it'd be easy to make cute, thus increasing cuddly toy sales.

    However, I'm expecting something quite different - I think they'll go down a similar line to the dreadful logo they chose; ie. trying to be 'street'. Whatever animal it is the chances are it'll be decked out in baggy clothes, covered with bling, sunglasses and a baseball cap.

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks for the comments so far - interesting, as ever.

    As I said in the original post, this is a choice by the organising committee. But to Ian P in #11 and Matthew Lewis in #5, the challenge I think is whether to play safe or try something different. The logo was something different and we've seen that prompted a range of views - many agreeing with yours.

    For the mascot, playing safe might mean lions (as some of you have suggested) or something huggable with big eyes (like Berlino). Or it could be that being more adventurous is the right course since these are Games supposedly built around innovation and creativity?

  • Comment number 14.

    I would have thought two mascots, a lion and a unicorn would be appropriate.

  • Comment number 15.

    we should lord mandelson shaking his head in disgust

  • Comment number 16.

    Perhaps the mascot will look like Lisa Simpson. After all, the logo did...

  • Comment number 17.

    I was living in Vancouver during the 2010 winter olympics. The mascots Miga, Sumi, Quatchi and Mukmuk were very cute and, yes, marketable, but also they were very appealing to children and made the whole olympic experience accessible and fun for an important group of our society. Let's hope Locog don't mess this one up!

  • Comment number 18.

    Based on the branding identity the 2012 games has chosen thus far, what with the grafiti look sure to be popular amongst youngsters, I can only think of one idea.....
    Rupert the Chav.....
    Rupert the Bear is a classic British cartoon character who notably dons a fake burberry scarf, a fashion which is very prominent amongst this nation's CHAV culture. With the CHAV culture very popular in urban regions such as the East end of London, this to me is very symbolic of the Games and the branding message the games has set so far.
    That was the inspiration for my selection.
    What do you think?

  • Comment number 19.

    I thought Ant and Dec were England's mascots

  • Comment number 20.

    Intrigued to find out what LOCOG have chosen as the 2012 mascot, but it'll have to go some to beat what I think is the best Olympic mascot ever - and the cutest, since that's what it's all about - namely Mischa the Bear, which is quite ironic considering that the Moscow Games were the most oppressive in Olympic history. :D

    And if anybody needs any proof, I submit this from the Moscow closing ceremony:

  • Comment number 21.

    Several posts have mentioned adopting a Lion as the Games' mascot..... but surely this is not representative of Great Britain? Whilst most mascots of the past seem to be anthropomorphised animals, they don't necessarily have to be. Take the 'Fuwa' (aka 'whole family of critters!) for example.... although they may have incorporated some aspects of animals, they were in fact dolls that represented the diverse aspects of Chinese culture and it's many minorities.
    I do hope Locog don't play it safe, they haven't so far, why stop now? But I certainly share the hope that we will be spared toxic day glo colours!

  • Comment number 22.

    Quite confident it'll be as hideous as the logo and once again leave us open to ridicule the world over and will then be hastily forgotten, much like the atlanta games mascot...

  • Comment number 23.

    Seb Coe has revealed on the Today programme this morning that the mascots are fashioned from steel. They emerge from the manufacturing of steel for the Olympic Stadium. So of the choice "animal, vegetable or mineral?" - they're mineral!

  • Comment number 24.

    Re 23:

    Nick Clegg and Seb Coe clearly plugging Sheffield 'the Steel City' again!

  • Comment number 25.

    To reflect the new 'progressive' government, a poodle-like animal with two heads with a torso in yellow and blue that can stretch apart like elastic. One head is called Lonny and the other Donny.

  • Comment number 26.

    I wonder what the reaction will be from the tabloids. I suspect many had planned to berate the mascot irrespective of what it actually looked like because it makes for an easy story. Now that the Mail has been heavily criticised for damaging our world cup bid do you think they will change tact?

  • Comment number 27.

    Rjaggar in #23: ah, but as Seb just disclosed on 5 Live - the steel comes from Bolton. Also revealed this morning: there are two mascots, one Olympic and one Paralympic.

    Both revealed on The One Show at 7pm and on this website...

  • Comment number 28.

    Steel? I hope it's child friendly steel, otherwise you can just wait for a "too dangerous for a 3 year old" moment from the Daily Mail or others ...

    How many "dislike" Facebook groups within an hour of the launch?

  • Comment number 29.

    Wow.. Mascots made from drops of steel, to do with the building of the stadiums etc.. I can see why the kids will be excited about this, do they have special planning permisson removal powers? or maybe they morph into a certain steel magnate? Gee what fun!

  • Comment number 30.

    How much did we pay for this forgetable tosh?!

  • Comment number 31.

    This is what happens when you listen to kids.

  • Comment number 32.

    My daughter's(age 10) first reaction was 'Wow they're cool'.
    Good enough for me- they look like Gogos, the names and backstory works, I still don't like the logo though!

  • Comment number 33.

    funny how they look like chess pieces yet chess isn't in our olympics (sport england doesn't think it's a sport, despite a government petition).

  • Comment number 34.

    Well I think that they are great they look pretty stylish and the back story is excellent, they have to be better than a Hedghog, a bear a lion and an eagle !!!

    I guess there will be many detractors and critics (Humbug !), the mascot story even though it has to be explained has already told me many facts about the Olympic movement and the UKs contribution I didn't know and found interesting.

    Bring on 2012 !!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    I think they are pretty neat. Here's hoping that kids, and all, can afford the resulting spin-offs and that commentators can relax their negative comments about them.
    Remember guys - it is meant to be about fun, for all to enjoy.

  • Comment number 36.

    As the BBC won't do me the convenience of a live feed of The One Show I haven't seen them in action, but the still pictures now available online suggest a really quirky product of a marketing mind under the influence of an excess of cartoons, if not mind-altering substances.
    The names are bemusing. ' Wenlock' and ' Mandeville'. Really??
    How gloriously traditional! I'm actually encouraged at the nod towards the emblematic English-ness of Wenlock Edge and Ralph Vaughan Williams's song cycle ' On Wenlock Edge ', though I will be staggered if the BBC chooses an extract to accompany any part of the sports coverage. There again, they elevated 'Nessun Dorma' to iconic football status in 1990, so why not? (Remember where you heard this idea first.....)
    The only problem is the difficulty of pronunciation in Japanese, a key marketing target. ' Wenrock' doesn't sound quite the same.
    ' Mandeville' may be an inspired tribute to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and hence enhance the Paralympics. If so, well done. However, I wonder if it was a toss-up between ' Mandeville' and ' Mandelson' and when Labour lost the election......well done, the British electorate.

    The fact they each only have one eye is an obvious hat-tip to ' Monsters Inc'. I'll put money on them being nick-named Banksie and Brown, and you don't have to think long for why.

    Ah well, if it parts people from their money and helps to reduce the national debt, it can't be too bad ....

  • Comment number 37.

    Some of you guys might not like the logo but I bet you recognise it when you see it.

    Which is exactly what a successful logo is all about!

  • Comment number 38.

    Just seen the mascots - I think they are excellent! The concept and the back story are spot on. The animated story is magical too! Well done London 2012.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well, good evening to you all, and in particular to you Roger.

    Mascots don't do it for me at all, usually, but!

    Wenlock & Mandeville,FABULOUS.

    As a slightly 'technophobic' character, (and at my age I'm allowed to be), mobile phones & computers really do rub me up the wrong way some times, but the guys who came up with Wenlock & Mandeville have to be applauded, W & M, you've got my vote.



  • Comment number 40.

    I think the Olymic mascots for 2012 are brilliant - they are fresh and modern - and cute. Great designs - something we can be proud of and hope they bring us luck in the Games.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think the mascots are as hideous as the 2012 Logo.
    What is wrong with something that looks more normal this also includes the Logo.

  • Comment number 42.

    Thanks for the comments. The crowd in this post seems more pro-mascot than in the other one!

  • Comment number 43.

    The new mascots would have been better with 2 eyes and not 1!

  • Comment number 44.

    I think Wenlock and Mandeville are inspired...they are really innovative. They're cute despite not being fluffy and in the age of computer games etc will really appeal to kids. They're also really versatile in they way they move. I love 'em!

    You will always face negative comments - it is after all (and sadly) a national pastime to put things down in this country...some people lack imagination to see past something they don't identify with straight away.

  • Comment number 45.

    Apart from them hardly having the "cuddle" factor, have you seen the video of them being lead out by school children? The poor people inside the costumes can hardly walk! Augurs well for the Olympics and the motto: Faster, Higher... wait a minute whilst I get one foot in front of the - oops, fallen over...

  • Comment number 46.

    I live in Manchester that used to have B OF the Bang statue linked to Linford Christie saying you should run when you hear B of the bang well it ended up being demolished at a great cost
    The emblem and now the mascots are just wasting money and have very little appeal
    The mascots represent the money wasting society we live in and I bet my taxes went into this garbage

  • Comment number 47.

    so the mascots have a taxi light on them to symbolize that London has taxis, just like every other city(yeah for congestion). their camera eyes remind everyone that Big Brother is watching over the Olympics(ingsoc ftw), they have trendy rubber bracelets to remind people to follow fads(cancer is cool). Finally, a positive portrayal of liquid mimetic polyalloy beings, to show that they are not all robot assassins from the future. Oh and one has a watch, to remind you time is running out.


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