After the design community’s reaction to the London 2012 logo, the mascot was always going to be a difficult job. But UK agency Iris has just unveiled not one, but two characters for the Olympic and Paralympic Games: Wenlock and Mandeville. Both are clearly of the digital age. And we have to say, we think they look rather good…
Iris has seemingly thought hard about the fact that in 2012, the Olympics will be broadcast in unprecedented fashion and that, of course, means taking into account how the mascots can be used over various social media, websites, animations, YouTube and Twitter etc (yes, both Wenlock and Mandeville already have Twitter feeds).
The two characters are named after Much Wenlock in Shropshire, the village that hosted a precursor to the Olympics in the 19th century, and Stoke Mandeville hospital, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games. Each mascot also sports a yellow light atop its head, as a reference to London’s black cabs, and the Olympic Rings get a nod via Wenlock’s bracelets.
Unveiled on BBC One’s The One Show earlier this evening, Wenlock and Mandeville appeared as two shiny models in the studio. Both, it’s claimed, were born from drops of steel from London’s Olympic stadium.
The press generated so far has, however, largely used photographs of the more predictable mascot iterations of ‘two people in giant suits’ and these don’t look half as impressive as the shinier, 21st century versions.
The duo also appear in a supporting animation written by Michael Morpurgo which can be viewed here (still shown, below).
In a segment on the new mascots – a design story on primetime BBC One! – the One Show also featured some designs from previous Games. Though I don’t think Otl Aicher got a direct mention, at least his daschund, Waldi, got some well deserved airtime.
The question is, will Wenlock and Mandeville still appeal in another two years’ time? CR believes that a certain James Jarvis was also in the running for the job at one stage, and we can only imagine what he would have been able to bring to the occasion. (James has also commented on the experience, below).
For now though, I think Iris’ monocular characters have just the right balance of digital zeitgeist and cheeky playfulness about them.
Update: Iris has released some more information about the design of Wenlock and Mandeville on their website.
“Our brief was to create mascots that would excite and inspire young people and encourage them to get involved in sport. We wanted everyone, especially young people, to be able to take part, so we asked ourselves, ‘Why have one mascot when you can have millions?'” says Grant Hunter of Iris.
“To capture people’s imagination you have to create something iconic – something unique – something as individual as you and me. We have created a flexible design that allows you to make the mascot your own, while celebrating what is great about Britain – our heritage, our culture and our creativity. They are inclusive, because they invite everyone to take part and get involved. They aren’t ‘the’ mascots – they are your mascots.
“The result is a world first – a multi dimensional, adaptable design for the digital age, which will allow you to customise the mascots online later in the year. And who knows what else, after all we’re just at the start of the journey and the possibilities are endless.”
And here are some notes on the design of each character: