There were only two winners in the competition to choose mascots for the Beijing Olympics out of 5,816 candidates. That’s how the panda Bing Dwen Dwen, the official mascot of the 2022 Winter Olympics, and the Chinese lantern Shuey Rhon Rhon earned their roles.
But the panda outshined the lantern in terms of global appeal — by a lot.
Bing Dwen Dwen quickly viral, not only in China, but around the world.
The Japanese journalist Gido Tsujioka gave himself the new moniker “Gido Dwen Dwen” because he “fell in love with Bing Dwen Dwen at first sight.”
Bing Dwen Dwen is now becoming an internet celebrity online, according to the South China Morning Post. There are even some stores that even have to force to limit customers to just one panda souvenir each due to the overwhelming demand. Shuey Rhon Rhon, on the other hand, hasn’t enjoyed the same level of fame.
All of this boils down to one big question: Why is Bing Dwen Dwen more popular than Shuey Rhon Rhon?
Bing Dwen Dwen is a giant panda who wears a full-body “shell” made out of ice
The giant panda is a Chinese endemic species that has become a symbol for China. Even the World Wildlife Fund chose the giant panda as its logo, which is one of the most well-known animals on the planet. They are especially well-known in Toronto, where the zoo hosted giant pandas from China in 2013. When four pandas moved to the Calgary Zoo, hundreds of people turned out to say farewell.
Bing Dwen Dwen got a lot of exposure
Since the 1998 Winter Olympics, it has been a tradition to separate the Winter Olympics from the Summer Olympics by having a Medals Plaza. The awards will not be given out on the spot at the competition venue after the athlete’s competition is completed, and the same is true for this Winter Olympics. This also gives Bing Dwen Dwen a better chance to expose and promote. Each time the rankings are announced, each winning athlete will receive a gold Bing Dwen Dwen plush toy.
The Winter Games really only had one official mascot: Bing Dwen Dwen
It’s also important to keep in mind that Shuey Rhon Rhon is the official mascot of the 2022 Winter Paralympics, not the Winter Olympics. The Paralympic Games generally does not receive the same level of attention as the Olympic Games.
This time the Beijing Winter Olympics used a dual-protagonist strategy in mascot promotion, with many images of Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon showing up together. Indirectly, this will raise awareness of Shuey Rhon Rhon, as well as the Paralympics
The popularity of Bing Dwen Dwen is inextricably linked to China’s social media
Starting from Feb.4, Bing Dwen Dwen related topics accumulated more than 380 times on the list of trending topics on Weibo, which is a Chinese popular social media. The views of its related stories and topics reached 52 billion, and the online discussion about Bing Dwen Dwen amounted to 28 million.
“The reason why Bing Dwen Dwen has become popular on the Internet is because of the help of social media,” Aaron Wu, director of a company’s marketing department in Beijing, said in the Toronto Observer interview.
“Apparently, Bing Dwen Dwen became a top trending topic on Weibo for several days, and Weibo’s hot trend topic can be purchased. This is a promotion strategy. Such exposure equates to national exposure.”
According to the Global Times, a Chinese daily newspaper, the special “Spring Festival” version of mascot Bing Dwen Dwen sold out in just 37 minutes.
“It was difficult for me to buy Bing Dwen Dwen online a few days ago,” Wendy Yang, a third-year student at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said in an audio-call interview.
“And those of us who have had Bing Dwen Dwen around us are considered ‘lucky dog’!”