Brad Copeland

Brad Copeland is President and founder of Atlanta-based design firm Iconologic. He was Design Director for Atlanta’s 1996 Games bid, and the 1996 Olympic and Paralympic “Look of the Games”. Since 1997, Copland has been working as the IOC advisor on the development of the Look of the Games, and is currently monitoring the programs in Beijing, Vancouver and London in this role. In 2005, Iconologic collaborated with the Torino Image and Identity team to design the Look of the 2006 Olympic Games. He, along with Creative Director Matt Rollins, directed the design of the Look graphic and thematic elements, the winter sports pictograms and the Games theme, "Passion Lives Here". He has served as a judge for all Olympic emblem competitions-for Athens, Torino, and Beijing.

An Interview with Brad Copeland, IOC Look of the Games Advisor
What is the mascot's role at the Olympic and Paralympic Games? What do you think the mascot brings to the Games?
Olympic mascots are the host city and country's ambassadors of the Games — for the athletes, visitors and the worldwide audience. As such, cultural relevance is one of the most important criteria in the creation and selection of the mascot. The truly memorable mascot brings a warm, welcoming personality to the Games, appealing naturally to children, and in the most successful cases, to adults as well. In addition to supporting the themes of the host city, the mascot must align with and reflect the Olympic ideals — such as friendship, participation and fair play.
What are your favourite Olympic or Paralympic mascots? Why?
My favorite Olympic mascot is Barcelona's Cobi. Cobi, a wild Spanish dog, was a very unpopular choice across Spain in the beginning, but proved that personality and connection with the values of the Olympic Games can conquer all. Created and brought to life by the vision of artist/designer Javier Mariscal, Cobi's magnetic personality soon won everyone over, including adults. His popularity increased his visibility to include a 30 minute animated series every Saturday in Spain. It was one of the most touching moments in my Olympic experience when he sailed out the Olympic stadium in a hot air balloon at the end of Closing Ceremonies.
My favorite Paralympic mascot was for Athens (Proteas). Conceptually, this concept was so appropriate because the seahorse, although legless, could do anything, and made all of the sports look effortless. This approach is very consistent with the view that the Paralympians have of themselves and their pursuit of excellence. They are identified by their performance and achievement instead of their disability.
What are the most important considerations when developing an Olympic and Paralympic Games mascot? What are some of the challenges?
I think there are ten criteria for a successful mascot:

  • As I've said earlier, the most successful mascots appeal to children AND adults.
  • They must appeal to both genders or be gender neutral.
  • They must reflect the values and mission of VANOC and Canada.
  • The mascot should align with and support the Olympic and Paralympic ideals.
  • Artists should strive for a unique, surprising concept, avoiding tired and overworked clichés. Flexibility is key - the mascots must work in all sizes, various media (print and electronic), and all types of merchandise.
  • The artist must depict the mascot in each sport discipline in a clever, realistic fashion.
  • The mascots must work in one color and in three dimensions.
  • The most important application is the plush toy. If the mascot doesn't translate well in this application, it may not be the right concept.
  • It should easily integrate with the rest of the Look of the Games design elements as well as sponsor programs.

What kinds of designers and artists have developed mascots in the past?
Individual designers, small design firms, illustrators, animators as well as large movie and animation studios have created past mascots. Creative vision and passion, more than experience, usually separates the best ideas from the average.