Monday, December 03, 2007

The Vancouver Olympics Woos Kids with the Cutest Mascots Ever!

So, last week the 2010 Vancouver Olympics committee unveiled its team of official mascots (seen above - picture courtesy of, which you should also check out for a hilarious short article about them entitled "Why do our mascots all look like Hello Kitty?"). Each one is based on West Coast Native legend, and represents a key component of the BC landscape. For example, check out the "bio" for "Miga":
The sea bear is inspired by the legends of the Pacific Northwest First Nations, tales of orca whales that transform into bears when they arrive on land. The Kermode bear is a rare white or cream-coloured sub-species of the black bear that is unique to the central West Coast of British Columbia. According to First Nations’ legend, Kermode bears — also known as Spirit Bears — were turned white by Raven to remind people of the Ice Age. Orcas are also honoured in the art and stories of West Coast First Nations, as travellers and guardians of the sea.

They're also super cute, anthropomorphic Pokemon-types, that do look like Japanese animation-style (e.g. Hello Kitty) characters, and surely not by accident. On the other hand, the mascots and their branding are also obviously targeted to kids, and in that regard are pretty on the pulse in terms of what's aesthetically and thematically popular right now. Think of the huge popularity of Chinese and Japanese legends in kids' culture over the past few years, which forms the basis of a number of media brands. This includes Xiaolin Showdown and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and even things like Magi-Nation and Pokemon that incorporate the same mythical themes and elemental magic. In this respect, I think Miga the Sea-Bear, Quatchi the Sasquatch, and Sumi the Animal Spirit might have a lot to offer, adding Native legends to kids' repertoire and possibly opening the door for a more diverse kids' cultural landscape.

I can't help but notice, however, that the Olympics committee seems to have taken a much larger cue from the commercial kids' industries (not just style and themes). Branded toys, books and other mascot-imprinted accessories are already available for sale on the website. Hmmmmmm. Is this an example of making a big important public event more relevant for kids through the incorporation of themes/interests drawn from kids culture, or is it simply yet another case of rampant commercialization (increasingly associated with the Olympic games in general) reaching into the child demographic? I suppose we'll have to wait and see, but my fingers are tightly crossed for option number one.


Anonymous said...


Unknown said...


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Our site:

Title: Beijing Olympics

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Best Regards,