In 1965 Walter Tuckwell & Associates Limited were appointed by the committee to negotiate licences for the use of the official insignia. Walter Tuckwell a few months earlier had countrywide success with the licencing of Dr Who and the Daleks for the BBC, and felt to achieve similar success a character or mascot would appeal to the widest range of merchandising.
As Richard explains "we were given the task of creating a mascot to exploit merchandising beyond the insignia of the Jules Rimet trophy which was initially all we had to work with. It took us five minutes to decide that a lion would be better than a bulldog and another five minutes for Reg to draw it," he says. "Willie allowed us to create product with a sense of fun"
World Cup Willie was launched in July 1965 at a press conference held at Football Association headquarters.
Long before the mascot was created the nickname World Cup Willie was used for the Organisation's short, square shouldered and brisk stepping Chief Administrative Officer, Mr E. K. Willson. Looking at pictures of him there is no doubt on who the mascot was named.
The football World Cup tournament is held every four years and is one of the most watched sporting events in the world. The decision of who is to host the tournament is decided six years before.
At the FIFA Congress held in Rome, Italy on August 22nd 1960 the hosting of the 1966 World Cup was awarded to England.
In the lead up to the finals World Cup Willie became more popular appearing on hundreds of products, in newspaper cartoons, the pop charts, tv appearances, comics, in fact the success of this mascot is that he is every much a part of the tournament as the football itself.
A new mascot Juanito was created for the 1970 World Cup held in Mexico. World Cup Willie was given a makeover and wearing a sombrero became the mascot for the England team.
In 2007 World Cup Willie became news when a private company attempted to register the name and logo of World Cup Willie. The Football Association counterclaimed with copyright infringement and that it owned the goodwill. After the 1966 competition it had announced that World Cup Willie would become plain Willie, and the court considered that this indicated an intention to continue to exploit the name independently of the World Cup. Licensing of the name ceased in 1970 when Englands reign as holders of the World Cup came to an end, but the FA convinced the court that this was because the name was only appropriate for use in connection with a world cup in England. It could be dusted off later if the competition were to be staged in England again.
The court was satisfied that the FA after 40 years had sufficient residual goodwill to prevent other companies using World Cup Willie without their license. World Cup Willie was described in court as one of the most valuable sports rights in the UK.
An official insignia logo for the
tournament was required. A design by
Arthur Bew was finally accepted by the
World Cup Organisational Committee
on 30th June 1963.
Artist Reginald Hoye and his colleague Richard Culley working for Walter Tuckwell came up with the design.