Watching the arrival of Boribi, our new mascot for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, I was shocked. Our new mascot was lowered onto the Gold Coast beach from a chopper like a sack of potatoes, or a flood victim recently plucked from the roof of a submerged house.
I cannot imagine which PR entity would ever allow any new brand to be introduced in such a vulnerable position: a lame and wimpy entrance for something ostensibly quite important.
First impressions count, I will never erase the memory of Borobi’s limp form being lowered on the end of a cable. Was s/he rescued from the bottom of a cliff perhaps, and pressed into service for our sporting greatness? Or perhaps s/he gets airsick or doesn’t like heights.
I would expect a mascot for the Australian athletics team at to have arrived by parachute, with green and gold smoke trails streaming from its ankles. Or to come from the sea: swimming or even stand-up paddle-boarding through a brisk and choppy surf. Even jumping from a simulated burning eucalyptus tree to the beach would have had more vigour than what we saw last night, which was more like newsreel of the distribution of disaster relief.
A sports mascot should be vigorous and, well, athletic. S/he should project the intensity of the flesh, sweat, brains and hormones that make up the teams who will go head to head in what is arguably the second-most important omnibus athletics competition in the world after the Olympics. Instead we see something soft, cuddly and needing assistance.
What image does Borobi project? What do we think the take-away will be when folks encounter Bambi, sorry Borobi, in the media, or even in the “flesh”. Borobi looks kind of goofy and kind, and that red nose hints at someone who likes a tipple now and then, or both now and then and some in-between from the intensity of the red. Its more a Les Patterson nose than a koala’s
I imagine radio competitions posing questions like “what is Borobi’s favourite drink?” the answer being Green Chartreuse or Blue Curacao perhaps? Not a beer, certainly.
I expect Borobi will be a hit with the kids (not too scary), but will puzzle the adults. I can see their raised eyebrows, and the thought balloons popping above their heads: “Is this really what a koala looks like?” “Will s/he pee on me if I give it a hug?”
I think Borobi in its current form might be better used greeting arrivals the Easter Show and hand out free show-bags. Or perhaps helping asylum-seekers at Villawood or Nauru detention centres: all the better to distract them from the enormity of their situation and relax the inmates before medical inspections.
Are our Commonwealth Games administrators projecting Aussie athletes and “nice cuddly competitors” who might stop their races to direct a lost visitor to the nearest loo? Or should they be portrayed as aggressive and hungry competitors who want to win; perhaps not at all costs but as close as can be.
Surely there are other icons that invoke more testosterone? I understand a koala has never been used before, and perhaps for good reason. At least Matilda had height and muscly legs – the equivalent of human “guns” – as distinctive athletics artefacts.
Alas, Borobi is more likely to get sand kicked in his or her face than flex a bicep or get the winsome boy or girl on the beach. Borobi reminds me more of the “before” images from Arnie’s career than the “after”: utterly wet and a weed, a Caspar Milquetoast or a Walter Mitty.
If there are no actual iconic fauna to draw on, we should consider the fictional like Drop-bears or Tasmanian Tigers. Sadly the Tasmanian Tiger was appropriated by Walt Disney ages ago, albeit that cartoon representation is more the image we want for elite athletic competitors. This leads to only one option.
Alas it’s too late, Borobi has been launched and is locked in. We will be treated to this little softie for the next 2 years, unless s/he wanders too far into the reactor at Lucas Heights.
So to our sports administrators, if some accident occurs and Borobi needs a makeover, take some advice: a sports mascot needs a little less Bambi and a bit more Drop-bear.