5 of the best designed Olympic mascots

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Welcome to Take 5 where The Drum, along with jones knowles ritchie (JKR) Singapore strategy director Katie Ewer, take a bi-weekly look at some of the design industry’s best imagined packaging design where you, the reader, are in control.

Every other Friday we’ll pick a theme and ask you to submit the design you feel deserves a top spot. You’ll have one week to get your entries in, the votes will be counted and the best of lot will be published the following Friday. (Make sure you scroll down to find out the next topic winging its way).

But back to today's theme: Olympic mascots. The first unofficial Olympic mascot was called Schuss, and he was a… well, I have no idea what he was (he has been referred to as a ‘skiing sperm’), but he helped launch the Grenoble Winter Olympics in 1968. The rest is Olympic history – a highly questionable mix of rubbish design, lack of imagination and sickly-sweet cuddly-wuddly animals.

Here are 5 notable exceptions:

Waldi – Munich Summer Olympics 1972

The very first official Olympic Mascot made its debut at the 1972 Summer Olympics of 1972. He was designed by Otl Aicher, who also did the Munich Olympic logo (and the Lufthansa identity, if you’re interested). During the Olympics, the course of the marathon around the city was designed to run in the shape of his short, cute little contours. How cool is that? Waldi is completely timeless, and there hasn’t been a mascot this good since. 

Cobi - Barcelona Summer Olympics 1992

Cobi is a Catalan sheepdog, rendered in a Cubist style in homage to Pablo Picasso. Public reaction was largely negative, but Cobi turned out to be the most lucrative Olympic mascot in the history of the modern games. He’s unconventional and he’s also cute – what’s not to love. 

Snowlets – Nagano Winter Olympics

What I admire about these is their simplicity. Compared to the over-polished Disney-esque cuteness of say the Sochi Olympic mascots, these feel refreshingly unfussed with. They’re owls, they come in four different colour combinations, what more do you want?

Sumi, Quatchi and Miga – Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010

There is a charming naiveté about these little guys – they wouldn’t look out of place on a range of kids yoghurts or something. They’re straight of a beautiful children’s storybook and they don’t make any pretence to be hyper realistic (looking at you again, Sochi Winter Olympics). Plus, the big one has a tattoo.

Lele, Nanjing Youth Olympic Games

This one’s in here because if I don’t put him in, who knows what he might do to me?! Have you ever seen anything more terrifying? That perma-grin! Those eyes! Those luminous colours! Did he grow up eating MSG in a chemicals plant? The lesson here is that smiles and bright colours do not necessary equal adorable. 

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