What Will Brits Whine About When Games-Logo Fury Dies?

Emma Hall From London

By Published on .

The negative reaction to the London 2012 Olympic Games logo makes us Brits look like a nation of whingers. Once you realize it says "2012" (I admit I had to have it pointed out to me) then its potential becomes obvious.

Commentators have enjoyed coming up with all sorts of obscene interpretations of the graffiti-like jumble of pink and yellow shapes, but to me, this element of surprise and adaptability is the logo's greatest strength. It's designed to move, so that it works online, on cellphones and on TV as well as in print and on mugs and T-shirts.

On the minus side, it does smack of a middle-age designer's idea of what appeals to young people, and the typeface on the word "London" is awful. See what you think at London2012.com.
Emma Hall
Emma Hall is Advertising Age's London reporter, and won't be competing in any Olympic sports.


Opposition to the logo has been bitter. Journalists have camped outside the house of designer Wolff Olins' chairman, Brian Boylan, in the hope that he will break his silence, and an online petition to get the logo scrapped attracted 48,000 signatories in 48 hours. Bookmaker Ladbrokes took bets on the possibility that the design would be replaced.

Well, it isn't that bad (the promotional video that caused seizures among epilepsy sufferers aside, of course). Take a look at the gallery of former Olympics logos and you'll see a lot worse. You Americans can't be smug about your own track record either -- the Atlanta 1996 and Los Angeles 1984 logos, both based on a star theme, are safe, unremarkable interpretations of the Olympic dream.

You have to go back 30 years to get a decent logo. The graphic Moscow 1980 effort is a triumph of Soviet austerity, but the parallel curves of Mexico 1968 would make a fantastically cool T-shirt even now.

Part of the anti-Olympics frenzy in London is bound up with resentment at the spiraling costs of staging the Games, now estimated at $19 billion of public-sector funding. The extra $800,000 in Wolff Olins' coffers adds insult to injury.

The main worry is that bad publicity will put off sponsors -- the London Olympic Games Organizing Committee is looking to draw an additional $4 billion in commercial money, and the launch of the 2012 logo was a pivotal moment in that effort.

We do have a full five years to get used to our 2012 logo. Just think -- people might actually grow to love it; the games may be a roaring success; London may be comprehensively regenerated; and Brits might just have to find something else to moan about.
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