On this flight we will meet a very special passenger, a true World Cup icon. Someone who changed the way we look at the whole world of sport and how it presents itself to us the fans. Not to mention how we spend our money.
It was 1966 and the world was ready for its first mascot superstar. So make sure your seat belt is correctly fastened its 1966 all over again and here comes World Cup Willie.
World Cup Willie was the first official mascot at a World Cup. Its hard to image these days any sporting event not having a mascot. Playing to the crowd, entertaining the kids and generating sales in the shops. Willie is accredited with the starting the merchandising boom that now accompanies every sporting event.
The two men worked in a advertising and marketing company which had been granted the rights to the World Cup. Richard Culley described what happened “We were given the task of creating a mascot to exploit merchandising beyond the insignia of the Jules Rimet trophy which was initially all we had to work with. It took us five minutes to decide that a lion would be better than a bulldog and another five minutes for Reg to draw it, we wanted a product with a sense of fun.”
Willie was an instant hit. There was World Cup Braces, table cloths, toffees, crisps, Knitting patterns and toys. As well as many other lines, the company finally issued 125 licenses for the brand.
So when your down the Lane next season and adoring parents spend their money so their child can walk around with Chirpy, give a thought to where it started.
Thanks to - License magazine, BBC, The Sunday Times, National Football Museum,
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