So here's the res: there's a World Cup just around the corner and FIFA give you a call to make you, yes you, the designer that will create a mascot for the tournament. How are you going to do it and can you make it reach its full potential?
This was the situation faced by the people that created Goleo VI, the mascot for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
And as you can see by clicking here
, Goleo VI is a friendly looking lion, bedecked in football shirt, often accompanied by friend and talking football, Pille. (Who conjures up such images in their head we may never know...)
All well and good, perhaps, but it turns out that the German company that won the contract to make the little fluffy toy Goleos has now gone bankrupt. How could that be? Does the lion lack sufficient charm to make the kiddies of the world beg mercilessly for a toy just like him?
Well let's see... Goleo VI was designed by the Jim Henson Company, so straight-away it's got a high pedigree where amiable outsized members of the animal kingdom are concerned. But wait a minute: isn't the mascot supposed to have some connection with the nation it's representing? It's a lion, and forgive me for elbowing David Attenborough out of the way on this one, but I don't recall lions being indigenous to Germany? Their national symbol is the eagle, so why use a lion - especially when rivals England have three of them on their shirts?
Next, we witness our lion's attire. Very natty shirt he's wearing but wait a minute - no shorts?? What sort of message does that send out to the footballing community? The World Cup mascot's some sort of big, hairy pervert? Apparently so, if the German response was anything to go by.
The good folk of Germany apparently never quite took to Goleo VI when its identity became known. That's a shame, but you can't help thinking that these days designers are just trying that bit too hard.
Back in 1986 when the World Cup was held in Mexico, the mascot was a green chilli pepper called Piqué that sported a moustache and a sombrero. For the 1982 World Cup in Spain, the mascot was Naranjito - a smiling cartoon orange wearing the red and blue football kit of the home nation.
Simple. And just to rub salt in the wound, England started the whole thing back in 1966 with a lion mascot of its own - World Cup Willy - and what's more, he DID have the dignity to wear shorts (to say nothing of socks and boots too).
So take a tip all you designers out there: if the phone rings and it's someone from FIFA asking you to design a mascot, don't try and be clever. Grab a piece of fruit or a vegetable, draw a face on it and you'll be pretty much home and dry. But please - no Americanised members of the big cat family. And definitely no talking footballs.
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