“We believe that Macejko the Bear will be at least as popular among the fans as his predecessor, Goooly the Wolf. Goooly the Wolf was extremely popular and the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation used him months after the championship was over,” said Slovak Ice Hockey Federation general secretary Miroslav Valícek.
Macejko was baptized in Štrbské Pleso at the square where the Nordic Ski World Championship took place in 1970. The 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship organizing committee decided to officially launch and baptize the new mascot at the venue where the IIHF Ice Hockey European Championship took place in 1925 with host country Czechoslovakia as the winner. Until the 2011 Worlds in Bratislava and Kosice it was the only top-level ice hockey event with the participation of the men’s national team that took place solely in Slovakia. As well, Strbske Pleso is one of the main tourist attractions during the winter months.
2012 Worlds silver medallist Jan Laco was present at the mascot launch: “The bear is a symbol of power, and I believe that it will stir up the fans and push our team forward. It is really a great mascot,” he said.
The event was hosted by Marcel Forgac from FUN radio and music was provided by the band Vidiek. On Sunday, 20 January, Macejko went to the ski resort in Tatranska Lomnica, where he greeted fans between. However, those are not his only activities before the championship. Fans will be able to see him in various ski resorts in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria, and during the Kaufland Cup matches in February in Bratislava. He will also make appearances at travel fairs around the country. Information about the Macejko’s travels will be published on the official Facebook page of the 2019 IIHF WM.
Everything was done under the supervision of the Wiktor Leo Burnett creative director, Peter Kacenka: “Macejko was created by the common efforts of the team not only in the agency,” he explained. “The final visual is the result of ideas of more people – and everyone deserves a credit for something – be it the look, name, character, face expression, physique. We considered various characters and symbols that represent our country. The symbolism of the bear – power, fighting spirit, courage, majesty – spoke in its favour.”
The mascot wears hockey equipment and accessories inspired by Slovak folklore. The shepherd’s belt and hat make him a real Slovak man, ready to face challenges. His ice hockey posture is complemented by poses from Slovak folklore dances, which supports his national character. “We did not try to refer to any specific Slovak region. The elements we used are more of an inspiration and have symbolic value. The belt is perceived as a magic object that gave the hero super powers, and the hat has always been a natural part of men’s wear. Young adults or married men could not be in public without a hat. Macejko is not only a name but also a symbol, strongly connected to ice hockey in Slovakia. I believe he will be popular among fans from both home and abroad,” added Peter Kacenka.
The mascot is made of light materials so movement would be easy. It does not weight more than five kilograms. It is designed for movement on a dry surface, but also on ice. During the championship, the hat will be often replaced by a hockey helmet.
“Macejko the Bear represents the desire of regaining the power of Slovak ice hockey. After all, the saying goes: strong as a bear,” explains the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Organizing Committee’s Head of Media & Communication, Michaela Grendelova.
The 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship mascot’s name was chosen by the hockey fans in a voting on Facebook. From more than 1,200 suggestions, the names Juro and Macejko made it to the final voting. In the end, Macejko won with twice as many votes.