In our third and final installment of our throwback to the mascots of the Olympic Games, we’re hurtling into the last two decades where mascots are becoming more modern than ever before. No longer flying solo to the Games, they are now in duos, trios, and quartets, each made up of a motley crew of unique and endearingly enthusiastic characters. It’s the final countdown to the Rio 2016 Olympics — let’s journey back into the 2000s and 2010s all over again and revisit these iconic mascots.
Syd, Olly, and Millie (2000 Summer Olympics, Sydney)
2000 brought with it a new century and three new mascots to welcome fans and cheer on athletes during the 2000 Summer Olympics. Meet Syd, Olly, and Millie, a platypus, kookaburra, and echidna respectively, with names that subtly referenced Sydney, the word “Olympic,” and the new millennium. Created by Matthew Hatton with the objective of avoiding obvious Australian mascots like kangaroos and koalas, this historic trio symbolized water, air, and earth, with colors that corresponded to the Games’ emblem.
Powder, Coal, and Copper (2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City)
Created by Landor/Publicis, Powder, Copper, and Coal were a snowshoe hare, coyote, and black bear. They rang in the 2002 Winter Olympics as mascots that not only served as an allusion to Utah’s natural resources, but also the natural abilities of each animal — the speed of the hair, the climbing ability of the coyote, and the strength of the black bear — which illustrated the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius (faster, higher, stronger). Each character wore a necklace of the animal he/she represented in the form of a rock engraving, or petroglyph, as tribute to the ancient Anasazis and Fremonts peoples of the region.
Phevos and Athena (2004 Summer Olympics, Athens)
As a nod to the gods of Olympus — Phoebos AKA Apollo, the god of light and music and Athena, the goddess of wisdom — siblings Phevos and Athena brought the Games back to their roots in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Clad in blue, Phevos recalls the sea while Athena’s orange tunic is representative of the Paralympic emblem and the sun. As brother and sister, the two symbolize unity of men and women through equality and the pleasure of playing as well as the values of Olympism. Created by Spiros Gogos from Paragraph Design, the unique shape of Phevos and Athena was inspired by terracotta dolls, “daidalas,” from the 7th century that were shaped like bells.
Neve and Gliz (2006 Winter Olympics, Turin)
Created by Pedo Albuquerque, a Portuguese designer who was selected by the jury members on the President’s Office of Organising Committee [including Javier Mariscal, who created 1992 Summer Olympic mascot Cobi!], Neve and Gliz were a humanized snowball and ice cube. (Note the shapes of their heads to distinguish the duo as well as their colors with Neve in Red and Gliz in blue.)
The perfect pairing for the 2006 Winter Olympics, together the two represented the fundamental elements required for successful Winter Games. Separately, they personified Winter sports with Neve linked to harmony and Gliz to athletic strength.
Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, and Nini (2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing)
You’ll never meet a quartet of mascots quite like Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, and Nini, as the fab five’s names all form the sentence “Welcome to Beijing” when put together. Created by Han Meilin, the five mascots formed the “Fuwa” which means “good luck dolls” at the 2008 Summer Olympics. They each represented a different Olympic ring color and wish, an ancient Chinese cultural tradition that wishes are transmitted through symbols. Blue Beibei had the wish of prosperity, black Jingjing for happiness, yellow Yingying for good health, green Nini for good luck, and red Huanhuan for the passion of sport.
Quatchi and Miga (2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver)
Inspired by the fauna and tales of the First Nations on Canada’s West Coast, Quatchi and Miga had the distinct advantage of being mythical mascots at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Created by Momi Design, Quatchi was a Sasquatch who lived in the forest and wore boots and earmuffs while Miga was a sea bear. While the “sea bear” may be a myth, the Kermode bear is not and lives exclusively in British Columbia.
Wenlock and Mandeville (2012 Summer Olympics, London)
Are Wenlock and Mandeville, the unique Olympic and Paralympic mascots behind the 2012 Summer Olympics, our generation’s Izzy from the 1996 Summer Olympics? Not nearly as abstract, as this pairing created by the Iris Design Agency came with the narrative that they were created one of the last drops of steel used to build London’s Olympic Stadium. Their eyes (or eye, I should say) are a camera lens, filming everything they see and definitely spot-on for today’s social media-infused culture. Other designs left on the cutting room floor before Wenlock and Mandeville were chosen included a pigeon, a teacup, and Big Ben with arms and legs.
The Hare, Polar Bear, and Leopard (2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi)
As a nod to the three places on the Olympic podium, the Hare, Polar Bear, and Leopard were created for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Each mascot had their own creator and distinct name — Silviya Petrova made Zaika the Hare, Oleg Seredechniy created Bely Mishka the Polar Bear, and Vadim Pak was behind Snow Leopard the Leopard.
Vicinius and Tom (2016 Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro)
Born out of an “explosion” of universal joy and happiness, Vicinius (a mixture of all Brazilian mammals) and Tom (a fusion of Brazilian flora) will be joining us on August 5th, 2016 as the Opening Ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics kick off. As our Olympic and Paralympic mascots, Vicinius and Tom have already proven to be a hit via social media with fans for their pop culture inspired looks and nods to the enthusiastic nature of the Brazilian people.
Now that our series is over (and we hoped you loved reading it as much as we loved putting it together), we want to know which throwback mascot was your favorite? Let us know via Twitter @advertisingweek and @howveryheather!
Images credit: Olympic.org