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Semiotic representations of Olympic mascots revisited: Virtual mascots of the games 2006-2012

Peter Knight (School of Business, University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA)
Ina Freeman (School of Business, Jones International University, Centennial, Colorado, USA)
Stephen Stuart (School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)
Gerald Griggs (School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Norm O’Reilly (Department of Sports Administration, College of Business, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA)

International Journal of Event and Festival Management

ISSN: 1758-2954

Article publication date: 11 March 2014




The purpose of this paper is to review Olympic mascots in the electronic and traditional communications environments.


Olympic mascots from 2006 to 2012 are analyzed using a descriptive semiotic analysis technique.


Results found that none of the 2006-2012 mascots clearly represented the two most recognizable icons of the Olympic movement, the Olympic Rings and the Olympic Flame. The association of the London 2012 mascots with the Olympic Games are found to be limited.

Research limitations/implications

This research sets the stage for a number of future studies to further assess the management issues, social benefits, and potential missteps regarding mascots at the Olympic Games and other mega-events.

Practical implications

The practitioner of today working for a mega-event like the Olympic Games needs to be aware of the potential benefits and inherent risks of developing and implementing a mascot.


This research is the first to look specifically at Olympic mascots in the electronic age and contrast their use to traditional communications.



Knight, P., Freeman, I., Stuart, S., Griggs, G. and O’Reilly, N. (2014), "Semiotic representations of Olympic mascots revisited: Virtual mascots of the games 2006-2012", International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 74-92.



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