The “Five Friendlies” themselves have received a warm welcome (meaning that people spent far too much money on them when they first came out) but no one seems to like that they’re called “The Five Friendlies”. Although in Chinese their names spell out “Beijing Welcomes You,” (Bei bei+Jing jing+Huan huan+Ying ying+Ni ni=Beijing huan ying ni) nothing quite so “clever” is done with their English name, which to Shanghaiist bears too much connection to a place where we used to get ice cream shaped like a clown’s head when we were young.
The Friendlies, you see, are here to express Chinese hospitality. Though we can’t be expecting BeiBei to be serving us tea. Can we? It seems like everyone has something to say about them. Some comments from Xinhuanet are below.
“This name is too shallow in meaning. There are a lot more of traditional and cultural meanings with the mascots, such as blessings, fortune and good luck,” said a lady surnamed Ma from an IT company.
She also said the name had no ear-catching rhythm. It was too long for people not familiar with English.
“A good name for these mascots is very important as it is part of the country’s image. I hope the Olympics organizing committee can come up with some better ideas,” said Ma.
For Canadian businessman Jamie Rieck, the name did not seem relevant to the subtle designs behind the mascots.
“It’s amazing to learn the rich contents in the images. For example the fish represents prosperity, and the swallow, from kite design, symbolizes blessings,” he said.
He suggested the name should help foreigners understand the culture behind the mascots. “Otherwise, many foreigners would take them just as five cute cartoon figures.”