Wenlock and Mandeville
The Telegraph reports on the remarkable results achieved by an enormously large committee inspired simultaneously by commercial vulgarity and political correctness.
After 18 months, 40 focus groups and a secret operation worthy of MI5, London 2012 on Wednesday finally revealed the mascots that will help define the capitalâ€™s Olympic experience, and just as importantly help pay for it.
The one-eyed figures, called Wenlock and Mandeville, were unveiled at an east London school on Wednesday with organisers hoping they will inspire a generation of children and persuade their parents to contribute the Â£15 million the mascots are slated to raise in merchandising revenue.
Two parts-Pokemon to one-part lava lamp with yellow ‘Taxiâ€™ lights on their foreheads, the distinctive characters are intended to capture the imagination of children and work as well in the digital world as they will in costume form at trackside in 2012.
Any concern at the appropriateness of the design, which shares a certain abstraction with Londonâ€™s much criticised logo, should be off-set by the smart choice of names, which resonate with Britainâ€™s Olympic and Paralympic history.
Much Wenlock in Shropshire is considered by many the birthplace of the modern Olympics. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the IOC, visited the town in 1890 and took inspiration from the annual Games organised by Dr William Penny Brookes, a local doctor, to â€œpromote the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitantsâ€.
Stoke Mandevilleâ€™s famous spinal injuries unit meanwhile was where the Paralympic movement began, and the naming of one mascot after the hospital is an explicit attempt to raise the profile of the Paralympic Games.
The mascots will soon be ubiquitous, with merchandise going on sale in July to mark two years to the London 2012 opening ceremony.
They are a central part of Londonâ€™s Â£70 million merchandising budget, and organisers hope the mascots will contribute up to 20 per cent of that sum through sales of T-shirts, key-rings, tea-towels and the like.
The Cyclops design allows the mascotsâ€™ eyes to work as lenses, and digital cameras in the shape of the characters will be available.
The design has provoked a strong critical reaction.
The organisers of London 2012 were plunged into a fresh row after the new Olympic mascots were branded â€œpatronising rubbishâ€ by design experts. …
Apparently hewn from the â€œlast drops of steelâ€ left over from constructing the final support girder of the Olympic Stadium, the one-eyed creatures are intended to help young people relate to the Games.
But branding experts last night called them â€œa calamityâ€ and accused Olympic bosses of wasting thousands of pounds on their creation.
Stephen Bayley, the prominent design critic, said: â€œWhat is it about these Games which seems to drive the organisers into the embrace of this kind of patronising, cretinous infantilism? Why canâ€™t we have something that makes us sing with pride, instead of these appalling computerised Smurfs for the iPhone generation?
â€œIf the Games are going to be remembered by their art then we can declare them a calamitous failure already.â€ …
[C]ritics said the design would leave young people baffled. Aaron Shields, a partner at the design agency BrandInstict, said: â€œI donâ€™t think people are going to relate to these very modern creations. The first rule of mascot creation is to make something familiar and accessible, not something alien. This is just going to be seen as another disappointment coming out of the Olympic games.â€