A public vote on the choice of mascot for the FIFA World Cup 2018 will be held in September 2016, according to David Fowler, FIFA’s Head of Brand & Marketing Communications, who broke the news speaking at the roundtable marking the start of the second round of work on the mascot.
The roundtable was attended by Russia’s graphic art and design icon Igor Gurovich, BBDO Moscow Creative Director and CEO Igor Lutz, Curator of Identica Department at Wordshop Communications Academy, graphic designer Mikhail Gubergritz (formerly Creative Director at BBDO Branding), Graphic Design and Illustration Professor of the British Higher School of Art & Design, Curator of the Design Graphic Design and Illustration study programme Dmitry Karpov, and Art. Lebedev Studio’s Art Director Timur Burbaev.
Terms of entry
Students from 57 art schools across Russia will enter in the second round of mascot selection, scheduled for 15 September to 15 November. A school may enter any number of students, but there is a limit of one work per entrant.
It wasn’t a random decision to let students create the mascot, according to Karpov. “We could have given the job to professionals, but we thought, Russia is so rich in talent, let’s give students a chance,” he said.
The task of competition entrants is to create their own version of the mascot, picking from the ten characters selected by Russian football fans in July. The contenders, selected in an online poll, are Amur tiger, Bogatyr (legendary warrior), wolf, Far Eastern leopard, Firebird, Alien, Astronaut, cat, bear and robot.
"We’ll know what our mascot is a year from now,” said Fowler. “The top three works, entered by creative groups or individual contestants, will go on a public vote next September.”
In their technical brief, mascot design competition entrants are asked, inter alia, to make sure their character represents Russia as a welcoming, hospitable country. It is important that the mascot promotes FIFA World Cup 2018 recognition, makes the fans feel pride and respect and gives them the foretaste of a fantastic football experience, and that it epitomizes the host country’s openness and hospitality, passion for football, respect for tradition and fair play. The mascot must appear athletic and focused on the goal.
There is a mandatory dress code for the mascot: shorts and T-shirt, or the full football uniform for anthropomorphic characters.
Prospective entrants will be required to include their proposed mascot image with their entry bids, depicting the mascot in different positions and application versions, enclosing 3D prototypes. “A mascot is not just an image,” Fowler said. “It’s an outfit people must feel comfortable wearing. The official mascot gets to travel the world, it’s used in print, animation videos, and on gift products.”
One other requirement is that the mascot has to be male. “Our policy is that we’ll have male characters for men’s tournaments, and female characters for women’s,” Fowler explained, adding that a mascot has to have personality.
During the final round of the mascot design effort, some time in 2016, the best works will be put on a national vote by one of the national TV channels. The top three candidate mascots, each with a name, pre-selected according to a range of artistic, legal and marketing criteria, will be presented to the TV audience for final approval.
The organizers warned that any mascot ideas presented prior to the official bid submission will not be accepted for the competition. The winner will be awarded a special FIFA prize. “We’ll tell you what the prize is next week,” Fowler promised. “It’ll be worth it.”