You may think that the superstars of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics were Chinese freestyle skier Eileen Gu, or Japanese “ice prince” figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu. However, another true breakout star was in fact, Bing Dwen Dwen (冰墩墩, directly translate to “Chubby Ice Child”), the mascot of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. Despite being the star of the show, the mascot was highly criticized when making its debut back in 2019 – comments such as being “out of the world ugly”, it looks like a “flash frozen panda” and a “sesame ball with a filling leakage” were made by Chinese netizens. Overall, Bing Dwen Dwen did not win the heart of the Chinese people until the Beijing 2022 Games has officially kickstarted on February 4th.
Why is Bing Dwen Dwen so popular?
Bing Dwen Dwen is a roly-poly panda plush with a transparent “ice” shell. Its cute, cuddly, and chubby characteristics naturally attract people from all over the world, “no one can reject Bing Dwen Dwen”, according to comments on Weibo. Its spherical shape and lively reactions are both symbolizations of being healthy and strong, likewise portraying the willpower of athletes, while its ready-smile and crystal shell represent a playful and innocent China.
An exclusive version of Bing Dwen Dwen, Jin Dwen Dwen (金墩墩, jin is gold in Chinese), decorated by a golden wreath with a “pine, bamboo, and plum” (松竹梅) theme, was designed as gifts for medallists. The special souvenir demonstrates the resilience, tenacity, and vigor of the athletes. For the general public, however, obtaining Bing Dwen Dwen is a way to connect with medallists, in favoring their spirits. Bing Dwen Dwen is not only a souvenir but also an attribute to hold their memories for the Beijing Winter Olympics.
In addition, Bing Dwen Dwen showcases its mischievousness and vitality through displaying human-like emotions at the Olympic village, as it appears to be more of a friend than the mascot. A video from Weibo captured Bing Dwen Dwen humorously losing its temper and whimsically slamming a journalist when being teased. Bing Dwen Dwen also pretended to leave the Olympic village when not receiving attention from people by dramatically pulling a suitcase. Its authentic behaviors have truly blown-away thousands of netizens around the world and created notable impressions on people.
With Bing Dwen Dwen stealing spotlights at the Beijing Winter Games, foreign journalists and other tourists swarmed in queues to purchase their own Bing Dwen Dwen collection at the Olympic village store, likewise, both offline (flagship stores in Beijing) and online (e-commerce platforms such as Tmall) platforms sold out of the plush Olympic mascot as soon as the products hit the shelves. In some extreme cases, customers who have placed their orders for a plush Bing Dwen Dwen cannot receive it for another couple of months, despite factories continued operating throughout the Spring Festival holidays to maintain the supply chain. Moreover, Chinese top media such as People’s Daily (人民日报, Renmin Ribao) documented a live show, unveiling the production processes of Bing Dwen Dwen.
Not only is Bing Dwen Dwen an ordinary Olympic mascot that represents the Olympic spirits, but it also conveys “positive energies” – happiness and blessing. For example, the Chinese curling team has gifted the U.S. athletes a box of pin badges of Bing Dwen Dwen after the game to express their sportsmanship, which received heaps of ardent responses from both netizens and the media globally, as this demonstrates friendship among rival athletes. In addition, Bing Dwen Dwen cheerfully welcomed the first figure skating show by skating with all the best figure skaters from around the world.
The rush of buying Bing Dwen Dwen hit up, apart from the substantive product, Bing Dwen Dwen NFTs (non-fungible tokens) also seized a stratospheric craze on nWay (the official trading platform of Bing Dwen Dwen NFTs), with prices going on roller-coaster rides. The first issuance of Bing Dwen Dwen NFTs was priced at USD 99 each with a limited number of 500 (digital) “boxes”, containing one epic version of Bing Dwen Dwen and two rare models in each “box”. The rarity of the NFTs varies in four levels: Common, Rare, Epic, and Legendary. Each level deviates from its collecting and exchanging value, which is allowed by nWayPlay – the reselling and exchange marketplace. However, individual buyers are only limited to purchasing up to five “boxes” per person. As a result, the prices of Bing Dwen Dwen NFTs surged nearly 1,000 times, with the highest offering going up to USD 1,888 at one point.
Author: Baoqi Huang