“I am so excited!” The super Japanese fan of Bing Dwen Dwen, the panda-shaped mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, Gido Tsujioka, got a special gift from Cao Xue, head of the Beijing 2022 mascot design team, a cartoon of himself and Bing Dwen Dwen during his online talk with Cao on Tuesday.
For the past week, Tsujioka, an announcer from Japan’s NTV, has become a hit on Chinese social media for his love of Bing Dwen Dwen and earned himself a new name “Gido Dwen Dwen” after a sequence of videos of Tsujioka went viral on Chinese social media, which showed how Tsujioka, during live news, “showed off” his collection of Bing Dwen Dwen badges, met Bing Dwen Dwen and excitedly promoted Bing Dwen Dwen to the Japanese audience.
Having a conversation with Bing Dwen Dwen’s designer is one of Tsujioka’s wishes, he said in an interview with the Global Times last week. And with the coordination of the Global Times, his wish came true on Tuesday.
During the conversation, Cao unveiled many details on how Bing Dwen Dwen had been designed, including that it is from the image of a panda cub and how they kept confidentiality during designing.
He said that Bing Dwen Dwen is a panda cub inside an ice shell stylized as a sports helmet, making the animal appear more athletic. The idea of a series of colored floating lines around its head resembling tracks on an ice rink came from the National Speed Skating Oval, known as the “Ice Ribbon.”
Also, resembling an astronaut in a space suit, Bing Dwen Dwen is designed to be a winter sports expert coming from the future, representing a perfect blend of winter sports and modern technology. The ice shell also leaves space for various future designs.
Having the opportunity to learn how Bing Dwen Dwen had been created made Tsujioka excited and during the conversation, he was amazed by stories behind the cute mascot and asked many questions.
In response to whether other animals had been taken into consideration when designing the mascot, Cao said that the team had tried a Siberian tiger, elk and other animals but finally chose a panda as it has earned love globally. And to make the image of Bing Dwen Dwen cuter, they made the eyes, nose and mouth more centralized.
To exchange details of the design and maintain confidentiality, Cao and his team flew back and forth between Guangzhou and Beijing 21 times in seven months.
“We designers are not athletes, but by joining the designing of the mascot, we felt the spirit of an athlete!”
At the end of the online conversation with Cao, Tsujioka asked Cao whether he can draw a cartoon with him and Bing Dwen Dwen when it is convenient. Without any hesitation, Cao agreed and finished the drawing on site. In minutes, the image of Tsujioka appeared with a big smile on his face and holding Bing Dwen Dwen in his hand and bearing excitement.
“Tsujioka said he was touched by Bing Dwen Dwen, and we are touched by his love for Bing Dwen Dwen… this is also what we want to convey by designing Bing Dwen Dwen – to share love and happiness and the spirit of the Olympics with more people,” Cao told the Global Times after his talk with Tsujioka. Seeing Tsujioka and so many people like his design of Bing Dwen Dwen makes him feel happy and excited.
Sales of Bing Dwen Dwen have surged not only in China but overseas. For example, on a Japanese second-hand trading website, Bing Dwen Dwens have either been marked up or sold out.
In some of Beijing’s shopping areas, hundreds of people lined up for four to five hours in the cold just to get the panda-featuring mascot souvenirs, and sales of the clothes that appeared at the opening ceremony also surged.
At 1 pm on Sunday, a 300-meter line was moving slowly in front of a licensed flagship merchandise store on Wangfujing pedestrian street in Beijing to buy souvenirs, particularly the mascot. Some people even brought chairs for the long line.
“I have been waiting in line for nearly four hours and I came for Bing Dwen Dwen,” a shopper told the Global Times, adding that she came to buy the souvenirs to celebrate the first gold medal won by Team China in short track speedskating on Saturday.
“I think people want to get souvenirs and other items for the Winter Olympic Games, and I’m here to buy for my wife’s relatives in Shanghai,” a foreign national waiting on line told the Global Times.
“We’ve been told that there’s a big variety of things, and I think the most popular one may be the mascot Bing Dwen Dwen, and the one for the Paralympic Games (Shuey Rhon Rhon) as well,” he said.
According to the flagship store on Saturday, daily sales of Beijing 2022 merchandise hit a record high of nearly 3 million yuan ($470,000) on Friday, the day of the opening ceremony. Amid robust sales and long lines, the store implemented restrictions on the number of purchases by individual consumers and encouraged consumers to avoid peak hours.
Bing Dwen Dwen has topped Chinese social media after the opening ceremony. As of 5 pm on Sunday, the topic “Bing Dwen Dwen” had attracted 2.15 billion views on Sina Weibo.
Among all the hot searches across China during the Spring Festival holidays on JD.com, a major e-commerce platform, searches for Bing Dwen Dwen accounted for 90 percent, the company told the Global Times on Sunday. More than 10 million users had searched for the mascot on the platform.
Responding to hot demand for the mascot, Zhao Weidong, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, told a press conference on Sunday that officials are coordinating with relevant parties to increase the supply of Bing Dwen Dwen items, and the tight supply of the souvenirs came as manufacturing plants remained shut for the week-long Spring Festival holidays.
Nantong Jinfenghuang Crafts Toy Manufacturing Co, based in East China’s Jiangsu Province, one of the three producers of mascot souvenirs, said there is no stock in the plant and the company will resume production starting from Tuesday, media reports said.
“Shoppers’ enthusiasm for mascot souvenirs surpassed that in 2008. I have never seen a mascot toy that was out of stock,” Zhang Qing, CEO of Key Solution Sports Co, a consulting firm for the sports industry in China, told the Global Times.
The Beijing 2022 event came during the Spring Festival holidays, when Chinese people tend to send gifts and buy new clothes and that provided an opportunity for the marketing of Olympic merchandise, Zhang noted.
Take the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as an example, Olympic-related products generated revenue of $160 million, the Chengdu Economic Daily reported.
Shanxi Securities estimated the revenue of licensed souvenir products alone will surpass 2.5 billion yuan during the Beijing 2022 Games.
In addition to mascot souvenirs, down jackets and tiger-shaped hats and shoes worn by attendees at the opening ceremony have also gained popularity in China. The Lunar New Year is the Year of the Tiger.
Chinese sportswear brand Anta saw its down jacket sales up 203 percent from Friday night to Saturday noon compared with the same period last year on JD.com.
An Anta down jacket worn by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at the opening ceremony also gained widespread popularity on JD.com, with growing inquiries, according to customer service representatives from the platform.
Source: Global Times