Callers to the BBC Five Live radio breakfast show this morning seemed dismissive of the new London 2012 Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville.
What do they want? Another cuddly teddy bear?
Take a look at the history of Olympic mascots – not much that is inspiring in that list is there? And not much purpose to the mascot, other than to have a cute cartoon character for merchandise.
Here’s three reasons why I think the London 2012 organising committee has done a fantastic job unveiling Wenlock and Mandeville to the world:
1. The focus is entirely on children. The purpose of these mascots is not just to look nice on a T-shirt, it’s to get kids interested in the Olympic games and sport in general.
2. There is an entire back-story to their creation. They are two drops of steel from the last girder that went into the construction of the Olympic stadium. Michael Morpurgo has written about their life so far and no doubt he will develop the story as we head to 2012. Click here to watch the film about their life so far.
3. They are designed with a multimedia future in mind from the start. They are designed to be customised and shared. Because they are made of steel, their skin can change colour and reflect the world around them. So kids will be able to go online and adopt the character of their choice and customise the colours, creating avatars that reflect their own interests – even changing them to be the colours of their favourite football team for example.
I think the committee has done a great job of focusing the mascots on kids, encouraging the future of sport, and thinking hard about what it is that kids will want to do with the mascots over the next two years.
Forget the teddy bears, I’m following Wenlock and Mandeville online now!