Meet Waldi, the First Olympic Mascot

Curator: Patrick Richardson
date: July 28, 2014
Categories: Brand & Identity Design
Tags: dogs, Olympics, sports

I want to use this post to extoll the virtues of my dachshund Buster, who's absolutely incredible, but it was suggested to me that I at least make an attempt to relate this to design. That said, in my post-rationalization research I learned that the very first official Olympic mascot was a predecessor of my dear friend. Meet Waldi, the face (and elongated body) of the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games. 

Waldi was the creation of Otl Aicher, a German designer whose studio was responsible for the larger 1972 Olympic identity system as well as the Lufthansa logo. A very popular German breed, the dachshund was supposedly chosen because it possessed the same qualities that made a great athlete: resistance, tenacity and agility. 

The legacy of the Munich Games may be marred by a terrorist attack, but Waldi and the mascot concept in general, was an unparalleled success. In addition to putting smiles on faces, Waldi's likeness was applied to over two million products, from plush toys to T-shirts. He also left the Olympic Committee flush with licensing fees. Following the introduction of Waldi, every Summer Games since has counted on a mascot as both a rallying point and source of revenue. This German dachshund was followed by a Canadian beaver, Russian bear, American eagle, Korean tiger and Spanish mountain dog (and then things got weird). 

Moral of the story: dachshunds are rad and Waldi is no exception. For more on Olympic mascots, check this out.

Oti Aichner's Olympic logo

Ladies love Waldi swag

So damn handsome (my Buster)

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