Choice of Bamba baby as Olympic mascot stirs uproar

Social justice protesters decry corporate sponsor paying to have its logo represent country at London 2012 games.

March 13, 2012 17:33
1 minute read.
Baby from Osem's peanut snack Bamba

Bamba baby 370. (photo credit: Osem website)


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The Israel Olympic Committee came under fire from members of Israel's social protest movement on Tuesday, after choosing the baby character from Osem's Bamba peanut snack as its new mascot for the London 2012 games.

Whereas the Olympic Committee said the character was "a sympathetic figure which has become a part of the lives of every parent and child in Israel," social justice protesters decried a corporate sponsor paying to have its logo represent the country.

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The decision to have the Bamba baby represent Israel at the 2012 games came after the Olympic Committee's first choice of mascot, the prickly pear-inspired Shpitzik, was deemed a copyright infringement because of its similarity to Israel Educational Television's singing cactus, Kishkashta.

In February, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled in favor of Israel Educational Television, forbidding the Olympic Committe's use of Shpitzik and ordering them to pay Israel Educatuional Television's court fees.

The leaders of last summers cottage cheese protest sent a letter to Israel Olympic Committee Director-General Ephraim Zinger on Tuesday, criticizing the decision to choose the Bamba baby as Israel's new Olympic mascot.

"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 Marker quoted sources at Osem as saying that the Olympic Committee turned to the company with the idea of using the Bamba baby after the Tel Aviv District Court issued an injunction against using Shpitizik in February.

According to the source, Osem paid the Olympic Committee NIS 150,000 to have the Bamba baby represent the Olympic team.

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

The Marker quoted Livnat as saying 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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