Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grotesque Olympic Mascots

After much research and secret analysis, the British have revealed the Olympic mascots for 2012. All this secrecy and effort went into producing the stupidest and downright ugliest Olympic mascots ever.
The one-eyed figures, called Wenlock and Mandeville, were unveiled at an east London school on Wednesday with organisers hoping they will inspire a generation of children and persuade their parents to contribute the £15 million the mascots are slated to raise in merchandising revenue.

Two parts-Pokemon to one-part lava lamp with yellow 'Taxi’ lights on their foreheads, the distinctive characters are intended to capture the imagination of children and work as well in the digital world as they will in costume form at trackside in 2012.

Any concern at the appropriateness of the design, which shares a certain abstraction with London’s much criticised logo, should be off-set by the smart choice of names, which resonate with Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic history.

Much Wenlock in Shropshire is considered by many the birthplace of the modern Olympics. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the IOC, visited the town in 1890 and took inspiration from the annual Games organised by Dr William Penny Brookes, a local doctor, to “promote the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants”.

Stoke Mandeville’s famous spinal injuries unit meanwhile was where the Paralympic movement began, and the naming of one mascot after the hospital is an explicit attempt to raise the profile of the Paralympic Games.

The mascots will soon be ubiquitous, with merchandise going on sale in July to mark two years to the London 2012 opening ceremony.
You can check out other Olympics mascots and see that they fulfill the main requirement of an Olympic mascot - cuteness. That is crucial because the British Olympic Committee hope to make enough money from selling products emblazoned with the mascots in order to help pay for all the money that the Olympics will cost them. So they worked and worked and this is what they came up with?

Do you think little children are going to want these indeterminate Cyclopsean beings to hug as they go to sleep at night? Of course not!

Experts agree.
The two metallic characters, named Wenlock and Mandeville, were unveiled on Wednesday night after a rigorous 18-month design process involving 40 focus groups.

Apparently hewn from the “last drops of steel” left over from constructing the final support girder of the Olympic Stadium, the one-eyed creatures are intended to help young people relate to the Games.

But branding experts last night called them “a calamity” and accused Olympic bosses of wasting thousands of pounds on their creation.

Stephen Bayley, the prominent design critic, said: “What is it about these Games which seems to drive the organisers into the embrace of this kind of patronising, cretinous infantilism? Why can’t we have something that makes us sing with pride, instead of these appalling computerised Smurfs for the iPhone generation?

“If the Games are going to be remembered by their art then we can declare them a calamitous failure already.”
Unfortunately for the British, the failure of the mascots to endear themselves to consumers will be quite costly, indeed.
The IOC will not receive a cut from mascot sales but at the end of 2012 the rights will belong entirely to them.

The importance of the mascot in terms of generating revenue was clear from the 1980 Moscow Games as Misha the Bear became a global phenomenon. It featured on 100,000 posters and more than a million dolls were sold.

Locog has wasted no time in trying to make the most of its new mascots, with a limited edition T-shirt and pin badge already available online. The main range of products will follow in the summer.

The organisers will hope to avoid the disasters of the Beijing Games two years ago, when the “five friendlies” failed to generate expected sales of $300 million. Instead, they were branded “witch dolls” by many Chinese after a chain of events ranging from the designer suffering two heart attacks to an infestation of locusts.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, suggested the new mascots were of their time in presenting a “solid coalition”. Everyone involved will certainly hope they help to balance the budget.
As my students would say, this is an "epic fail."