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China to push for Olympic mascot products
Updated: 2005-11-04 16:22

China expects record sales of licensed products for the 2008 Beijing Games, spurred by a marketing campaign promoting its Olympic mascot.

Earlier this year about a half-dozen candidates from the panda to the Tibetan antelope were under consideration.

Beijing organizers Thursday declined to give details about the mascot. Chinese leaders will announce the result of the secretive selection process on Nov. 11, marking the 1,000-day countdown to the Summer Games, officials said. The fanfare that will include a gala in a Beijing stadium.

"The launch of the mascot will carry sales of Olympic products to a new height," Lai Ming, director of the organizing committee's marketing department, said at a news conference. "We believe the sales volume will be bigger than the previous Olympic Games."

Mascots are the most marketable symbols in the Olympics business. The choice is important as sales of licensed products and helps organizers defray costs.

Lai did not provide projected sales figures. But recent Olympics have generated more than $300 million in sales of licensed products, many of them emblazoned with the mascot. Local organizers keep about 10 percent to 15 percent of that in royalties.

More than 300 kinds of licensed products bearing the mascot will go on sale at 188 authorized venues across China the day after the announcement, from fluorescent pens that cost $1 to souvenirs made with precious metals for thousands of dollars, Lai said.

Jiang Xiaoyu, executive vice president of the organizing committee, said dozens of artists and design experts had been called to pare the initial list of mascot entrants from 662 to 56 and finally to six, with the final choice selected by the organizing committee. The International Olympic Committee approved the choice in August.

Jiang said the choice "ought to satisfy the 1.3 billion Chinese people and the peoples of the world."

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