After two years of ridicule, London 2012’s Olympic mascots, “Wenlock and Mandeville,” have at last found some fans. This week, fast food giant McDonald’s announced they would give away nine million free Olympic mascot toys modeled on the unpopular pair at their U.K. outlets, including at a vast temporary 1,500-seater restaurant planned for near the Olympic Park.
Setting aside the question of whether a monster hamburger emporium fits well with a celebration of physical prowess, McDonald’s decision to endorse the Olympic mascots is a rare vote of confidence for the Games’ visual branding. So far, London 2012’s visual identity has been among the worst ever, making this year’s otherwise well-planned games something of a laughing stock. Take those awful mascots, for example. Supposedly modeled on droplets of steel fallen from the stadium, Wenlock and Mandeville’s huge cyclops eyes make them sinister rather than cute. These widely parodied robots are essentially cuddly surveillance cameras. They’ve also been compared to sex toys and even linked to a cult conspiracy theory.
A more serious failure is the Games’ garish dog’s dinner of a logo. A slapdash mess in acid colors, it looks like its designers have accidentally dropped it on the floor, then decided to use the shattered pieces anyway. Modeled on the numbers 2012, it’s so mangled that the Iranians have claimed to see the word “Zion” in it, while bloggers have suggested it resembles something way too crude to print here. So far, no fresh visual success has distracted the public from the logo’s disaster – even Britain’s new Olympic torch looks like a cheese grater.
So why has London 2012’s visual identity been so poor? As Stella McCartney’s kit for the British Olympic team suggests, Britain isn’t without design talent. The shadow that Beijing’s Olympics still casts could be a possible source of London 2012’s visual diffidence, as British organizers have always been aware they could not manage the shock and awe spectacle of China’s 2008 Games.
Read more at The Atlantic Cities. [Image: Reuters]
Hello, nightmare fuel.