Never have I seen such a shit-storm blow up in such a short space of time.
The new "brand" for the 2012 Olympics was revealed with a fanfare yesterday in London by Lord Coe and greeted with an overwhelming outpouring of public scorn. It quickly got the nickname of "the pink swastika".
A poll by the BBC News website asked readers to give it a gold,
silver or bronze medal, or a wooden spoon if they really didn't like
it. A whopping 83% gave it the wooden spoon ...
... and in just
24 36 hours an online petition to change the logo gathered 13 862 44 586 signatures!
There are at least 3 valuable lessons from this debacle.
First, it is a mind-bogglingly bad example of mistaking a logo for a brand.
No wonder "branding" gets such a bad reputation, and is so mis-understood, when you have leaders saying things like this classic from Lord Coe in an interview with BBC Five Live:
"It's not a logo, it's a brand that will take us forward for the next five years."
Of course its a bloody logo. Nothing more, nothing less. Lord Coe has unfortunately swallowed whole the flawed terminology used by design, sorry branding, agency Wolf Ollins. They use the term "brand" to describe the logos they design.
If you can use the concept of "brand" to describe the Olympic games, then its to do with creating a memorable and distinctive visitor and athlete experience. This includes things like the design of the stadiums, the transport systems, the opening and closing ceremonies, the hospitality etc. etc. It should be about a brand-led business, or in this case experience, not about the brand as an image wrapper.
Second, the risk of trying to appeal directly to the "yoof" market.
Check out this load of brand bollocks from the official press release. Hugo Gaines, the over-intellectual and image-obsessed marketing director in the upcoming WTS? book, would have been proud to be produced this load of nonsense:
"The new emblem is dynamic, modern and flexible reflecting a brand savvy world where people, especially young people, no longer relate to static logos but respond to a dynamic brand that works with new technology and across traditional and new media networks."
The clue to where its all gone so horribly wrong is in that bit about "reflecting a brand savvy world where people, especially young people, no longer relate to static logos". It feels like one of those cringe-inducingly embarrassing attempts to "target" directly the youth market. Of course, by trying so hard and being so overt in attempting to create youth appeal the whole thing back-fires, as illustrated by one of the 2967 comments on the BBC 606 blog:
"RIDICULOUS!! It makes me feel depressed and ashamed! I'm 17 and this is certainly not 'cool'!! It's impossible for this logo to be any worse. Please London Olympic Committee----it's not too late to change it! The deformed swastika has to go!"
Or even better, this one nails it on the head:
"Absolutely pathetic - it is like your Dad trying to be cool and ending up just making you (or in this case the entire globe) cringe."
Just like your dad disco dancing in an attempt to be cool, and of course, failing. In fact, perhaps the inspiration behind the logo is that most famous disco-dancing dick-head himself (from the BBC's alternative logo site)...
Third, the power of "Citizen Marketers".
In the new world of blogging and other online "social media", people power is threat, but also an opportunity (Ben & Jackie at Church of the Consumer are the real experts on this). Tony Blair actually got it right when he said: When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life." What he didn't expect was that the positive change people would be inspired to make was to campaign for the logo to be changed!
As mentioned earlier, in 24 hours over 18 000 people have signed a poll to change the logo. Almost 3000 have added comments to the BBC blog. And the BCC has set up a site where you can see alternatives proposed by the general public.
Its a shame that the 2012 committee didn't think to harness all this energy and enthusiasm in a positive way BEFORE the logo was revealed. They could have proposed some alternatives and had a public vote using an online poll.
It will be interesting to see if Coe and Co. stick with the "pink swastika"... or if people power wins the day....