How Controversial Mascots Benefit the Olympics

The opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games takes place tomorrow in London. I happen to love both the Summer and Winter Olympics, so I’m happy that the Games have almost begun, and I decided to write a blog post about some aspect of the events. I did a quick Google search for fun facts about the festivities, and one controversy kept popping up: many people hate the London Olympics mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville.

Wenlock and Mandeville were designed to tell a story about London and the Olympics and Paralympics – for instance, they are shaped like drops of steel, which represents the Industrial Revolution, while the ridges on Wenlock’s head signify the three steps on the winners’ podium. Even their names hold significance, as Much Wenlock in Shropshire, England is where the precursor to the modern Olympic Games was held. And the name Mandeville derives from the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, whose games for injured soldiers inspired the Paralympics.

Although the characters manage to tell visitors a bit about the city and the Games, they are, well, creepy! Many people are up in arms that footless, one-eyed creatures were chosen to represent London on a world-wide stage. The organizers, however, are unapologetic even in the face of criticism from the general public and the likes of actor Ewan McGregor. They claim that plush versions of Wenlock and Mandeville are, in fact, the best-selling promotional marketing product associated with the 2012 Olympics.

Whether you like the 2012 Olympic mascots – and clearly I do not – you have to admit that they are a great marketing tool. If their likenesses are selling as well as the organizers claim, then they could generate as much as $32,000,000 in sales! Plus, the controversy surrounding them is generating a heck of a lot of buzz about the Games. Love them or hate them, Wenlock and Mandeville are great for the 2012 London Olympics.


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