London Calling: 2012 Mascots Get Marketing, Merchandising Head Start

London Olympic mascots Wenlock (left) and Mandeville begin their journey to the 2012 Summer Games.May 19, 2010: Let the marketing begin. With just over two years until the 2012 Summer Olympics Games in London, the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has unveiled its two official mascots.

The pair, named Wenlock and Mandeville, have already been described by observers as being a mash-up of Pokémon, Teletubbies and Japanese anime characters. Although their names and goals are altruistic in origin and nature, they ultimately are part of a larger financial plan. LOCOG has projected earning in excess of $104.4 million (U.S.) from merchandising, and the organizing committee sees the pair as being able to draw in more than $20 million (U.S.) alone via the sale of goods ranging from T-shirts, hats, sports apparel and towels to digital cameras.

Only T-shirts and commemorative pins are now available, with a wide range of official merchandise going on sale in July to coincide with the two-year countdown to the 2012 opening ceremonies.

Wenlock and Mandeville literally will be looking forward to their time as Olympic hosts: Each mascot has just one eye, but it is a camera that "will capture the people they meet, the places they go and the sports they try on their journey to 2012," according to LOCOG. Wenlock and Mandeville can send the photos to their own Web site, which also has such elements as an animated story of their origin. And, with online social interaction in maid, the pair also have Twitter and Facebook destinations.

International Olympic Committee marketing partners such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Visa can incorporate the mascots into marketing. But the larger tie-ins are expected from LOCOG partners. The 2012 Games have seven domestic Tier One partners: adidas, BMW, BP, British Airways, BT, EDF and Lloyds TSB; one Paralympic Tier One artner, Sainsbury’s; and six domestic Tier Two partners: Adecco, Cadbury, Cisco, Deloitte, Thomas Cook and UPS.

Mascot pins are already on sale.According to LOCOG, the "origin" of the mascots is that they were fashioned from two drops of molten steel spilt in the making of the last steel girder used in the Olympic Stadium, then given "life" by a rainbow. Wenlock’s name was inspired by the village of Much Wenlock where the "Wenlock Games" was one of the inspirations that led the founder of the modern Olympic movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, to create the Olympic Games. Mandeville’s name is inspired by the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, where soldiers suffering from spinal cord injuries were encouraged them to take up sports. That led to the formation of the Stoke Mandeville Games and, in turn, the modern Paralympic Games.

“We’ve created our mascots for children," LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe said in a statement. "They will connect young people with sport and tell the story of our proud Olympic and Paralympic history. By linking young people to the values of sport, Wenlock and Mandeville will help inspire kids to strive to be the best they can be.”

The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics had five mascots: a panda, antelope, fish, swallow and a flame.

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