Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sometimes A Mascot Is Just A Cigar

You should not read this post unless you are at least 18 years old, and you have a greater sense of humor than the British people. Seriously, don’t read this if you don’t like “questionable” words and images. This post is not for children. . . it’s about the London 2012 Olympic Mascots.

Holy sh*t! Take a look at the picture on the right:

What you are seeing are the new mascots unveiled yesterday by the London 2012 Olympic Committee. These things supposedly represent Britain better than anything else they could think of. . . like Big Ben, a bulldog, or a Mohammed.

The one on the left, flipping the Hitler salute, is called “Wenlock,” a common British name that means “Binge Drinking.” The one on the right is called “Mandeville,” another common British name that means “Dental Problems.”

According to Lord “Cocky” Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic games, Binge Drinking and Dental Problems will “inspire young people to engage with sport.” By which he means, they will make kids think of athletic supporters.

It will come as no surprise that these two mascots have not gone over too well with the public. Here are some samples of the comments people left when these were unveiled. Some pondered what they could be:

“Is it Mohammed?”
Some questioned the design:
“Why is the handicapped one wearing crotchless chaps?”

“Has the one in blue gone and soiled itself?”
Some questioned the practical value to the taxpayers:
“Another fine joke played on the long-suffering British taxpayer.”

“How can they spend all that money on this and the Olympics while there are politicians out there who need more money to waste?”
But then some began to see through the carnage to the evil intent:
“This is obviously a cynical attempt by the Olympic Committee to steal viewers from the Gay Games.”
And finally came acceptance:
“I, for one, welcome our new one-eyed overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted university researcher I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.”
But some still debate whether these truly represent Britain:
“Because nothing says ‘Britain’ like a creepy bipedal showerhead/penis thing with lobster claws.”
But is that fair? They certainly don’t represent all of Britain, but they do an excellent job of hitting some of the recent highlights. Consider that:
• The eyes are indeed camera lenses, which represent the surveillance cameras that spy on everything and everyone in the UK.

• The bulge -- no, not that bulge, look higher -- is a nod to England's growing obesity.

• The design on Wenlock’s t-shirt, which some claim looks like one box creature giving oral sex to another box creature (see right), actually represents vomit, and thereby is inclusive of all the youthful binge drinkers that make up most of Britain.

• The no-hands thing is a nod to the loss of manufacturing jobs, and their replacement with knife-like claws vaguely recalls Britain’s proud tradition of knife crime.

• Finally, the penis shape is stolen from Greece, which was the first to use walking penises as mascots for the Olympics (see left). This represents solidarity with Greece, whose debt the British have lately begun to emulate.
So all in all, it’s hard to complain about these mascots, even though there are many things that would have been more representative of Britain. They could have chosen a Big Ben-like mascot called “Huge Benjamin,” or a British Bulldog called “Bully,” or a binge-drunk teen called “Bingey,” a stuffed Prince of Charles, or a knife-wielding soccer fan called “Hooli,” or a turban wearing radical Imam called “Mohammed.” So many better choices. . .

God shave the Queen.


Anonymous said...

I'm speechless. You have to assume they went through countless variations before they arrived at this... thing. Marketing gurus, focus groups, etc.

I can't wait for Tom Stoppard's new play: "Wenlock and Mandeville are Dead."

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Speechless is a good word for it. What the heck were they thinking? What do these two things have to do with anything? There must be thousands of better choices for a British Olympics mascot, and yet, this is the best they could come up with?

I'd demand my money back from whoever designed these things.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Scott, this is the problem with focus groups. They rule out everything meaningful because of fears that it might send the wrong message, and the only thing left are formless blobs. . . which seem to resemble sexual imagery?

Joel Farnham said...


I saw these pictures earlier but never ever connected them with the Olympics. I thought they were SpongeBob's new friends.

On second thought, I think, it does represent most of Great Britain lately. A formless, vaguely sexual splotch of life.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, My first thought was "Teletubbies."

And yeah, this does kind of represent the worst take on the modern UK.

Anonymous said...

Good grief! With all the totally cool mascots the world over, they create these things? Horrible.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon,I agree. There were literally a world of possibilities, and there are millions of successful mascots already which they could have used for comparison. Instead, they went for. . . this.

Anonymous said...

I have better names for them. Pee-Wee and Pee-Pee.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I'd ask which one is which, but it doesn't really matter.

More Fun in Washington said...

Aghhh! This reminds me of something the geniuses in our former Marketing Department would have come up with.

AndrewPrice said...

MFW, This is entirely a government-committee creation. No one who actually had to worry about what their audience/consumers think would have designed these.

Writer X said...

Are you kidding me? They look like giant molars, only creepier.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, Aren't you glad your tax money didn't go to this one? Of course, I'm sure our government will create something similar -- there are probably secret committees "toiling away" as we speak! We wouldn't want to fall behind in the unlikable mascot race. . . ;-)

patti said...

“Is it Mohammed?”

LOL! classic. this will be the line we use for all things weird looking from here on out.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, I think you're right -- I know I plan to use that line a lot! :-)

BevfromNYC said... the very least they could have put a laural wreath and toga on them, so they would actually bear some relevence to the Olympics...Or maybe the cyclops eyes are what supposed to to make us think "Greek".

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I can't imagine what they would have come up with if they had been tasked both to come up with something that reminds people of Britain and reminds people of Greece.

Of course, you could be right, maybe a toga would help?

CrispyRice said...

OMG, I'm embarrassed even to have seen these things!

Funny as heck column, Andrew!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Crispy, I'm glad you liked it. If we can't laugh at this. . . what can we laugh at?

USArtguy said...

There seems to be a trend to poor mascots and logos over the last few Olympics.
Like here and here.

The trend of "sloppiness is cool" has been going on a while. At least they conveyed a sense of humanity. But the London 2012 logo is horrid.

WolffOllins is the agency responsible for this monstrosity. Sadly, they were paid £500,000 of tax payer money.

However, with respect to More Fun in Washington, as with all things that "the Marketing Department" does in any situation, it was "steered" and approved by someone else. In this case the London "Organising Committee". After more than 25 years in the design business, I can tell you I've seen hundreds of designs start out great only to wind up like crap because of client "direction". It never ceases to amaze me how clients will hire designers for their expertise, then dictate how something should be designed. You can bet, when the "Committee" got involved, everyone had to screw with it so they each could claim a piece of it.

You can see some laymen "interpretations" of the 2012 logo here, here, here and here. WARNING, the last two are not for kids or polite company.

AndrewPrice said...

USArtguy, I particularly like the one that spells out "SH*T" -- very well done!

I don't like the "sloppiness is cool" trend, but it does seem to be the trend. It strikes me that they are trying too hard to be cool (and to avoid any sort of offense). I also suspect that this is how they hide not have any good "solid" ideas.

When I compare logos and mascots like this to what you see at colleges or at places like Disney (or even with some corporations), it really makes me wonder why government sponsored projects always seems to produce such poor artwork?

If they paid 500,000 pounds, then they should get their money back. . . or at least be allowed to hunt members of the committee who approve the final design for fun.

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