Cartoon baby won’t be Israel’s Olympic mascot

Chris Chase
Fourth-Place Medal

A red-haired cartoon baby who appears on the package of Israel's most popular snack food won't be the official mascot of the nation's Olympic team after all.

Public backlash in the country has forced Osem and the Israeli Olympic Committee to cancel plans to make Baby Bamba the official mascot of the 2012 Olympic team.

Online protesters decried the use of a commercial symbol to represent a national delegation of athletes.

Osem, the company that makes the peanut butter-flavored puffed snacks that are a staple of Israeli households, had reportedly paid around $40,000 for the privilege of having their spokesbaby serve as the team mascot.

The backlash should have been expected. Sports fans will sit through hours of commercials while watching television and put up with rotating billboards at games and shouting carnival barkers telling you to buy Pepsi in the concourse. But a cartoon baby as a mascot? That's where we put our foot down.

This was a bit of an overreaction. Disagree with Baby Bamba because it's tacky, not because of some sort of higher moral issue with the crass pull of consumerism.

This line actually appeared in Wednesday's edition of the Jerusalem Post:

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

Corporate money is the Olympic team! Without corporate money, the Olympics wouldn't exist. Nike, Reebok and adidas have their logos plastered on every available limb of athletes. McDonald's pays hundreds of millions of dollars to promote itself to the world during the Games. Why do you think London is spending billions to host the Games? It's not because they're feeling charitable. This isn't cynicism, it's reality. Money is what makes the Olympics go round.

If the Israeli committee thought $40,000 was a good business move, then so be it. We're talking about a mascot, for Pete's sake. It's not like they were letting the kid carry the flag at the Opening Ceremony.

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