Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Top 5 Olympic Mascots

So, today marks exactly 2 years until the next Olympic Games which will be held by London, home of myhomepage! London 2012 is everywhere today - in all the newspapers and on the television. Lots of people are talking about and television channels are having special broadcasts from the new Olympic venue which is currently being built. I've driven past the site a few times and seen the stadium getting built. It does look very impressive! It's very round and seems quite small but I'm sure it will look amazing!

This got me thinking to the Olympic mascots - quickly becoming an integral part of the Olympic games. Have a good mascot and people will definitely notice it and pay it attention. I think a lot of companies, organizations, corporations and individuals often over look the humble mascot. Perhaps it is an old fashioned marketing idea and we are much more focused now on ubiquitus logo design, but I definitely appreciate a mascot. I think the West has moved on from the mascot but in the East, mascots are still plentiful - especially in Japan where cute characters are an integral part of a company's identity.

Mascot design is an artform in itself. As with all marketing, you have to think of the audience and the message. Mascots for different age groups or cultures should be designed different. Mascots are not just a cute way to appeal to children, they can sometimes say more about your company than website and/or logo design. They can have a voice and distinct personality that can present your company personality more accurately than through other marketing avenues. Designing the Olympic mascots must be a hard challenge as they are supposed to appeal to all men and women both young and old from all the countries around the world!

Without further adieu, here are my top 5 Olympic Mascots!

5. Sam (Los Angeles 1984)

Sam is a very fun mascot! Full of the anthropomorphologicalism that we would expect from a Disney designed character, Sam represents the US on so many levels. He invokes patriotism and kitch Americana without being too comical.

4. Hodori (Seoul 1988)

Hodori is a very cute tiger mascot from Korea. I really like this mascot because he has lots of charm and really embodies what the Olympics are about. He's competitive and eager to win but respectful! I don't think he's the best mascot though because there is very little of Korean culture in the design. He could be a tiger from anywhere - does Korea even have wild tigers? I like to think the mascots often represent some kind of the host city's/nation's culture that you can teach to the world.

3. Cobi (Barcelona 1992)

Cobi is the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He's different from the other mascots in that he sometimes wears a suit! Genius! He's based on a Catalan sheepdog and his design is inspired by Picasso's cubist paintings. There's so much culture and history in this design that makes it really interesting.

2. Wenlock and Mandeville (London 2012)

Wenlock and Mandeville are curious characters - they are apparently drops of steel incorporating subtle hints to the Olympics and Paraolympics and London. They are named after Much Wenlock - a town in the UK that hosted a games said to have inspired the modern Olympic movement - and Stock Mandeville - a hospital which was the birthplace of the Paraolympics. Their design incorporates London black taxis, the Olympic rings and cameras. Why cameras? I have no idea! But overall, I like the designs and I really like the small history lesson we get!

1. Fuwa (Beijing 2008)

There were 5 mascots the Beijing Olympics - I can't think of Games that had as many mascots! They are called Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini. Their names from the phrase: 'Beijing Huanying Ni' which translates as 'Beijing Welcomes You' (repeating a word for a name is considered diminutive). Each mascot is a different color of one of the five rings and each are infused with a lot of Chinese symbolism. Granted, a lot of people will not know what the designs symbolise but I think overally these are my favourite mascots. They are cute and each one has a distinct personality which means they appeal to lots of different people whilst also reflecting the ideas behind the Olympic games.

I hope you enjoyed this short look at the Olympic mascots and mascot design in general. I could never design a mascot but I do think a well designed mascot really makes a difference!

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