The quest to create the mascot for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics began today.
More than being a key image for the Games the mascot is a vital tool for London organisers who are trying to raise £2bn (€2.47bn) to stage the event.
The Olympics and Paralympics will each get their own mascot, possibly created by the same company, according to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Locog).
Designers will have until November 21 to register their interest before being shortlisted in December.
Pitches from the candidates are to be heard early next year with the successful consortium, agency or individual being picked by summer 2009.
The 2012 mascot is expected to be unveiled in the summer 2010 and to appear as toys, on clothes, in film and animation, on the gaming and digital platforms as well as in physical form.
As part of 2012’s licensing programme, which also includes items such as commemorative coins, the mascot is expected to help raise £65m (€80.47m) in royalties.
A Locog spokesman said: “The value of the contract will come out in the pitch process. It is a substantial contract in terms of the fact that it is significant for the public. This is also part of the London 2012 licensing programme.
“The range and application for the mascot will inevitably play a major role for royalties for the next years.
“Whether it is one mascot for one or a range – we are open to ideas. Beijing had five.”
“There will be different Olympic and Paralympic mascots. They will be distinct events with two distinct mascots.”
From Waldi, the stripey Daschund which was the first official mascot from the Munich Games in 1972, through to the Fuwa, the five mascots of the Beijing Olympic Games, mascots have played an increasingly important role in the delivery of a Games.
London’s design will reflect the “best of British” and reflect the London 2012 brand – ambitious, bold and creative but it must also have some public input, according to Locog.
Organisers would “like to be surprised” by the public involvement in the submissions which could include anything from feedback through a competition or voting, according to the spokesman.
London 2012’s commercial director Chris Townsend said: “Those of us lucky enough to go to Beijing this summer saw first hand the magic of the mascots - whether it was the soft toy version, entertainment at a venue or simply photo opportunities at the airport.
“They help set the tone for the Games and we’re very excited about kicking this process off today. Fun and games aside, the mascot programme will be a key component of our licensing plan and will be a strong revenue driver as we seek to raise the £2bn (€2.47bn) required to stage the games in 2012.
“This country is home to – in my view – the world’s best creative industry and this is an opportunity for them to play a key role in making the Games both memorable and a great success.”
Further information and details of how to apply online are available at www.london2012.com/business.