Meet the Friendlies

China recently unveiled the sporting event pictograms for the 2008 Olympics. I’ve been a fan of these little icons since Australia somewhat amazingly created one for each sport using little more than boomerang imagery. Athens continued the trend of using culturally-specific imagery in the pictograms by styling each event icon as if it were found etched on the side of an ancient amphora. (What, Plato never played ping pong?)

But China has gone further, entering the realm of the awesome and bizarre. Meet the Friendlies. The five main mascots — Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini — are endearing and meaningful (spelling out “Welcome to Beijing” among other things). It can’t erase the horror that is the Whatzit mascot from the Atlanta games, but it helps.

Their cuddliness is deceiving, though. The actual sport pictograms truly kick ass.


From left to right that’s the Modern Pentathlon, Taekwondo, and Shooting, also known as Plunder, Uppercut, and Make My Day.

More on Olympic pictograms and logoing:
The Graphic Design Olympics
A Mini History of Olympic Pictograms
Logos and Mascots