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The Stupidity of Olympic Mascots

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith

Who wants them apart from the marketing people? The unveiling of Wenlock and Mandeville the London 2012 Olympic mascots is the latest chapter in a long line of commercially driven visual disasters.

In announcing the 'story' behind the origins of the mascots Lord Coe proudly revealed the extensive use of focus groups in the creative process. Businesses and politicians have for a long time been obsessed with focus groups as in some way helping to reveal the inner secrets of what the target market is thinking. All these 'Olympic' focus groups have managed to produce is two creatures that look more like they belong in a pregnancy test kit rather than as standard bearers for the Olympic movement.  

Creative greatness is not produced by committee. We do not produce great works of art with a group of people telling the artist what they would like to look at and the artist manufacturing what he thinks they want. Do fashion designers ask the High Street shoppers what they want to wear then reproduce it? No, they push the boundaries of fashion and influence mass market clothes design and production by exploring the limits of their creative genius.

Pushing the boundaries is what the Olympic ideals are supposed to be all about - a test of individual strength, skill and speed. But in the over blown world of the modern Olympics, power and money have rapidly swamped the last shreds of these original ideals. Mascots are just another part of the commercial package, another revenue stream for organisers to tap into.

Here are the medal winners for the weirdest commercial Olympic mascot contest. I guess in some ways they are pushing the boundaries, but there is something inherently sickening about art that is produced with commercial gain as the sole aim.

Gold Medal – Izzy – Atlanta 1996 (Mr. Potato Head high on Red Bull) 

Silver Medal – Athena and Phevos – Athens 2004 (Penis in a T-shirt?)

Bronze Medal – Neve and Gliz – Turin – 2006 (Albino Scarecrows) 

 Neve and Gliz.jpg

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