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Community / Public space

Rio's Olympic mascots look a bit like Pokemon

Remember these?

London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympics logos, designed by Wolff Olins, cost the city £400,000 – and a BBC poll showed that 80 per cent of respondants thought they were terrible. To make matters worse, the logo looks a little like a Lisa Simpson is doing something entirely unsuitable for a family sports event. “The Olympics logo,” one Guardian journalist noted, “blows in more ways than one.” 

The mascots, named Mandeville and Wenlock, were also undeniably weird – essentially two posh Teletubbies with giant eyes for faces and flash hairdos:

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So when it came to the branding for Rio’s 2016 Summer Olympics, the pressure was on. The stakes were high. The eyes of the world will be on Rio, and it was vitally important that the city absolutely doesn’t know screw this up.

Here’s the result. 

What this reminds us of, more than anything else, is a trio of those sticky-handed men you get in party bags, playing ring-a-ring-a-roses. (This might just be us.)

The Paralympics one is a variation on the theme. Instead of using identifiable human figures, they’ve gone with more abstract shapes.

What this says about Rio’s views of the relationship between Olympians and Paralympians, we’re not quite sure. On the plus side, no sexual undertones. 

The mascots, meanwhile, look like this. You can tell it’s them, because of the helpful speech bubbles.

According to the Games’ organisers, the Olympic mascot is meant to represent all the animals of Brazil, and displays “the agility of cats, the sway of monkeys and the grace of birds”. More worrying is the fact that the Paralympic mascot represents “a fusion of the plants found in Brazilian forests”. Worryingly, it can also “pull any object from his head of leaves”. 

Both mascots might look a little familiar to anyone who’s ever watched Pokemon:

Perhaps Oddish and Meeow are both native Brazilian species. 

One other curious thing about Olympic branding: it repeatedly references children’s brands and characters, despite the fact that, by the Sochi Winter Olympics, the median age of US Olympics viewers was 55 (up from 48 in 2002). Perhaps the International Olympic Committee, and organising committees all over the world, are hoping to get children on board so they don’t grow up to ask: “Why are we spending billions on a two week sports day?” 
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