During the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, you would have had to be living under a rock to not know who Borobi was.
From the moment he jumped out of a helicopter high above Burleigh Beach on April 4, 2016, the surfing blue koala became one of the best-known ambassadors for the international event and attended more than 1700 appearances, including meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
The combination of Borobi’s unique appearance and lovable backstory was instrumental in the popularity of the mascot. From children to adults, Government ministers to elite athletes and corporate partners to volunteers, Borobi connected with them all and became an invaluable marketing and communication tool for GOLDOC (the GC2018 organising committee).
His success was also measured in commercial terms with Borobi merchandise becoming the must have souvenir from GC2018.
More than 100,000 plush toys were sold and were disappearing from the shelves as fast as they were restocked. In addition to the plush, more than 1 million items of merchandise were sold featuring the little blue Koala, making him the most successful Commonwealth Games mascot in the movement’s history. His presence on Social Media helped GC2018 achieve more than 1.5 million followers.
“Borobi was one of the big success stories of GC2018,” said Cameron Murray, former General Manager, Commercial for GC2018.
“He was used to sell our event, engage with the public and the media and the sponsor family loved him.
It was incredible how popular he and all his merchandise were, he became one of the most recognisable images of GC2018 and was an important commercial and brand asset for us.” said Murray.
Post GC2018 has seen three of the team instrumental in the development and success of Borobi start their own creative agency. Ken Minnikin, Bill Key and Tracy Whitelaw established Tribus345 after they successfully delivered all aspects of marketing for GC2018.
In the past 12 months they have already delivered another two mascots for prominent sporting organisations.
When Rugby Australia decided to give their current mascot Wally a more contemporary approach, they contacted Tribus345.
“We were very excited to be asked to work on Wally V2.0. Rugby has a grass roots fan base, including kids, which is a great community for a mascot to be part of,” said Ken Minnikin.
The team at Tribus345 teamed up with their creative partners from the Borobi project, Cutting Edge in Brisbane to create Wally The Wallaby. “The work Tribus345 and Cutting Edge did on injecting new life and personality into Wally has been great. He now has a story and a history, and it’s a story that reflects the proud history of Rugby Australia, and importantly embraces all our values and helps educate our fans and the community,” said Adam Freier, Head of Marketing & Digital for Rugby Australia.
As part of giving the mascot personality, Head of Creative for Tribus345, Bill Key creates a back story for the character that resonates with the organisation represented and embodies their values and attributes. The process of creating the back story is one of the most important aspects of mascot creation.
“The back story and tone of voice are vital to the creation of the character. The popularity of the superhero movie franchises at the moment show how much the public appreciates knowing the story of a character, it helps them connect, and that is vitally important when the mascot is used as a communication ambassador for organisations.” said Bill.
The team works closely with their clients to get a total understanding of the organisation’s history, values, messaging, and future aspirations. From this research, a direction is taken on what personality style will best reflect these factors and the story begins. Once the personality and story has been crafted, Cutting Edge work with the traits, values and attributes to bring the character to life visually.
“Collaborating with the Tribus345 team is always a pleasure. Over the past few years we have developed a collaborative process that allows all members of the team to contribute creatively resulting in much stronger, more developed characters,” said Zenon Kohler, Creative Director/VFX Supervisor at Cutting Edge.
Once the character has been developed as a piece of 2D art, usually in three signature poses, and the client has approved, a 3D model is created that can be used to develop character suits and merchandise lines. This model can also be utilised to create animations just as Borobi was bought to life during GC2018 for use in communications, marketing, sports presentation and sponsor activations. Tribus345 then manage the creation of the all-important mascot suit.
“It is absolutely crucial that the mascot does not just become a person in a onesie,” said Ken.
Tribus345 works with suit manufacturer, Promotechnics to create the suit and makes sure it is as accurate as possible to the original character and that no integrity is lost when bringing the mascot to life. “We work with the suit manufacturer to make sure the suit maintains a consistency of look with all the other mascot collateral, 2D images, merchandise and animation. “In many cases the suit will be the first interaction the public has with the mascot, so it must not only look like the rest of the collateral, but also have the same personality.”
Of course, social media and the internet plays a very important part in telling the mascot story and Tribus345’s head of digital, Tracy Whitelaw is responsible for giving the character life in the digital world.
“The tone of voice for a character shines through in social media,” said Tracy.
For many organisations the mascot’s digital presence is instrumental in connecting with a younger generation. “We always say that mascots might not be able to talk, but they have a very powerful voice. The mascots we create become an essential part of an organisation’s communication strategy. They can interact with the public in a much more personal and effective way than other corporate spokespeople or ambassadors,” said Tracy.
Again, in a collaborative process with the client, Tribus345 creates a strategy for launching the mascot, social media presence, artwork for collateral and organises training for the performers and the chaperones.
Tribus345 have recently been contracted by the INAS Global Games to create a mascot for the international event being held in Brisbane in October.
Using the same creative process as Borobi and Wally, Tribus345 and Cutting Edge have produced Lorri The Lorikeet, their most colourful mascot so far. INAS is the recognised International Sport Organisation for athletes with an intellectual impairment and full member of the International Paralympic Committee.
The story of Lorri had to communicate the very important message of inclusiveness of sport and promote INAS’s goals of changing attitudes, challenging perceptions, creating opportunities, developing pathways and strengthening communities. The organisers wanted a mascot that would connect with fans of all ages and spread the word of inclusion for all, regardless of any perceived differences.
We created Lorri, a cheeky lorikeet that had her own point of difference. Lorri has a distinct pattern inside her wings that is different to the usual lorikeet. It is based on the subgraphics for GG2019, and whenever Lorri greets her friends, athletes, fans and public, she opens her wings wide and shows of her vibrant wing pattern.
“The work Tribus345 did on creating our mascot, Lorri was exceptional.” Said Robyn Smith, CEO of the INAS Global Games.
“The story they created and the personality they gave to Lorri was perfect to promote the ideals and values of the Global Games and the athletes we represent. Lorri will fly the flag for inclusion for all and celebrate diversity in our community and the fact that every person can be successful in sport and life.”
The backstory again helped direct the image of Lorri and from there she was brought to life through 2D artwork, animation and costume.