"It's really hard, but maybe it's time to say goodbye," said a shop assistant at an official Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games store, located in downtown Beijing's Wangfujing Street, on Friday.
It was the last day for offline sales of Beijing 2022 official licensed products at merchandise retail stores, including the well-received mascots Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon.
During the Games, people queued up for several hundred meters in front of the store to purchase the mascots, which were not only appealing to athletes and sports fans, but also people all over the world.
The products maintained their popularity after the Games, but according to the licensed merchandise operating agreement, sales had to come to an end.
Currently, customers can still buy Beijing 2022 official products online until the end of this year. But from January 1, 2023, the mascot Bing Dwen Dwen will be under the protection of the Olympic intellectual property rights, according to the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee (BOCOG).
"It does not mean we are really going to say goodbye to Bing Dwen Dwen. A new souvenir may be released in the future with elements of both Bing Dwen Dwen and Fuwa, the five mascots of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games," said Wang Ming, an official with BOCOG's Marketing Department.
"The hot sales were out of our expectation prior to the Games," said Piao Xuedong, head of BOCOG's Marketing Department. Representing a blend of winter sports and modern technology, Bing Dwen Dwen was designed to convey Chinese people's aspiration for the Winter Olympics.
Over 5,200 licensed products in 16 categories were designed and produced over the past four years.
About 90,000 pairs of Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon were sold in the previous two years before the opening of Beijing Winter Olympics, while as the Games kicked off, the mascot was almost sold out all over China, Piao recalled.
The phenomenal sales brought pressure to related manufacturers who tried their best to meet the demand. By now, the total sales volume of Bing Dwen Dwen toys alone has exceeded 5.5 million.
"How time flies. Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon have been with us for such a long time," said a customer surnamed Yin at the official store in Gongmei Emporium.
Li Ying, head of the marketing department at Beijing Gongmei Group, was engaged in the licensed products operation at Beijing 2008, when he was also deputy manager of the Group's Winter Olympics Department.
"Indeed, this is a special journey and an unforgettable memory for me," Li said. "Our team will carry forward the Olympic spirit and continue to provide producing and retailing services for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou."
What's more, according to the International Olympic Committee, the marketing of Beijing 2022 created the highest sponsorship income among all Winter Olympics to date.
BOCOG launched the marketing plan in February 2017, which covered sponsorship, licensed merchandise operation, ticketing and brand protection.
In addition to the 25 traditional sponsorship categories like banking and airline services, the organizers also set up 11 new categories, including urban renewal and translation.