8 September 2015
Hello the MLE,
Just came across this news item from the world of branding… The city of Shima in Japan, excited about hosting the G7 economic summit in May 2016, has created a new mascot for the town.
The city is most well known for its ama divers, who famously do not use oxygen tanks to plunge to the ocean floor to catch various fruits of the sea. This is a highly skilled and dangerous profession that dates back thousands of years. Of course, in modern times, ama wear diving masks, wetsuits and flippers, though oxygen tanks are still forbidden. The industry is still mostly women, and the average age is about 60 and above (see some real ama divers above).
Naturally, everyone expected the Shima mascot to be an ama diver – but what they got was somewhat of an insult to them instead. The new mascot, Aoshima Megu, is introduced on the city website as a “17-year-old girl wanting to become a cute, fashionable ama, who is hoping for a boyfriend, and admires her veteran diver grandmother.” She wears a traditional “isogi” costume that has been shortened up to the thigh and tightened around her predictably big boobs.
Over 170 ama divers have signed a petition against the character and has asked that the city consider changing the mascot to something that shows respect and appreciation for this important part of Shima culture and heritage. So far, the city has no plans to change its mascot.