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Competition launched to name the Expo 2015 mascot

Cross-eyed cartoon has banana lips, watermelon head, garlic nose

20 December, 17:03
Competition launched to name the Expo 2015 mascot

(By Emily Backus) (ANSA) - Rome, December 20 - The competition is on to name a smiling, cross-eyed cartoon character with banana lips, a watermelon head and a bulbous garlic nose.

The mascot designed by Disney Italy for the Milan Expo 2015 represents 11 different foods, and was unveiled to the clamorous applause of children last Sunday.

Garlic, watermelon, orange, banana, fig, blue corn, mango, apple, pomegranate, pear, and radish are combined in a smiling Arcimboldo-like figure with a great lettuce beard. A number of the fruit and vegetable components are also individual sidekick characters with their own quirky, friendly faces. The whole cast will be used to convey the World Expo's food-oriented theme: 'Feed the Planet, Energy for Life'.

The challenging task of naming the characters has been handed to children aged aged 4-14 who live in Italy. A contest to name the characters has been activated online at the Expo's website (expo2015.org), where entries for name proposals can be submitted until January 7.

Winners are expected to be announced in the second half of February.

Entries will be judged on how original, likeable, international, and easy to remember proposed names are, as well as whether they are consistent with the Expo theme and easy to pronounce in different languages.

Winners will be awarded a meeting with the Disney Italy creative team that invented the Expo mascot.

A group that protects territorial wine-making standards in Italy on Thursday attacked the mascot for not being sufficiently patriotic.

"I think the absence of grapes is scandalous," said Federdoc President Riccardo Ricci Curbastro in a statement that mentioned Italy is the world's largest wine producer.

The Milan Expo 2015 website said the mascot is "a positive metaphor for the integration of the peoples and cultures of the planet".

The Disney mascots are "faithful to the spirit of the event and its values, such as collaboration, family, and diversity," explained Expo 2015 Commissioner Giuseppe Sala at the Sunday unveiling of the edible cast.

The mascot and related critters are also slated to be merchandised by Disney Italy. Their quirky grins are expected to show up on goods like clothing, school supplies and stationery, cups, stuffed animals and food products in time for the 2014 Christmas season.

Disney Italy merchandise is expected to bring in some 150 million euros in sales with between five and 10 million going to the Expo, organizers said at the Sunday press conference.

The Expo mascots may also feature in a cartoon or a short film.

Disney Italy Director Roberto Santillo said Disney is ''honored to have the chance to contribute to the discussion on such an important issue as food''.

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