Bamba baby won't be Olympic mascot

Olympic C'tee rescinds decision to make Osem company character Israeli mascot at 2012 games following harsh public criticism of move.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 13, 2012 19:47
1 minute read.
Baby from Osem's peanut snack Bamba

Bamba baby 370. (photo credit: Osem website)

 
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For decades he has been an Israeli icon, part of the backdrop of Israeli consumer life, and over the years has made an appearance in virtually every household in the country.

Still, Osem announced on Tuesday that the Bamba baby logo will not serve as the mascot of the Israeli team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, following an online campaign against the use of a commercial symbol to represent the national delegation.

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Earlier Tuesday, the Olympic Committee called the Bamba baby “a sympathetic figure which has become a part of the lives of every parent and child in Israel.”

Meanwhile, protesters criticized the move as an unethical partnership between corporate money and the Olympic team.

Activists behind last summer’s consumer-led “cottage cheese Intifada” protest on Tuesday sent a letter to Israel Olympic Committee Director- General Ephraim Zinger in which they said “the citizens of Israel are embarrassed by your decision to sell the rights to the symbol and mascot of Israel’s Olympic team for nothing, so a product can be marketed.”

The Bamba baby’s brush with Olympic fame came after the Olympic Committee faced a charge of copyright infringement due to a similarity between their cactus-inspired character Shpitzik and Israel Educational Television’s famous singing cactus Kishkashta. In February, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled in favor of Israel Educational Television, and soon after the Bamba baby was on his own way to London.

Reports have stated that Osem paid the Olympic Committee NIS 150,000 to have the baby represent the Olympic team.

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Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat on Tuesday also criticized the decision to use a commercial figure as the Olympic mascot.

Livnat said the Olympic Committee “should listen to public opinion and reconsider its choice.”

Quality government watchdog Ometz threatened to take legal action against the choice of the Bamba baby if the Olympic committee did not choose to change the mascot itself.

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