London's 2012 Olympic Logo Bashed

An online petition seeking a new logo already has more than 30,000 signatures.


June 5, 2007 — -- Unveiled with aplomb Monday in North London to an audience of more than 700 Olympic stakeholders and members of the media, the logo for the 2012 Olympics was described by organizers as a worldwide invitation to the London Games.

But based on the reaction the design has received, many may be sending their regrets.

The jigsaw puzzle logo for the 2012 Olympic Games in London has ignited a firestorm of public opposition — more than five years before the Games will open.

The colorful design, which cost organizers nearly $800,000 to create, features four jagged, bold numerals stacked two-by-two and reading 2012.

In the Z-like number "2" is the Olympic host city "london," spelled out in lower case letters, and in the "O" is the five-ringed Olympic symbol.

London-based brand consultants Wolff Olins designed the controversial logo, which is a far cry from the one used by London organizers as they lobbied to host the 2012 Games — the third time the Games will be held in England's capital city.

Words like "dynamic," "modern" and "inclusive" have been used by the head of the International Olympic Committee, and organizers of the London Games to describe the ideas behind the branding logo.

"This is a truly innovative brand logo that graphically captures the essence of the London 2012 Olympic Games — namely, to inspire young people around the world through sport and Olympic values," International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said at Monday's unveiling.

Not so fast, Mr. President.

In less than 48 hours since the logo's public unveiling, opposition has been rabid.

Blogs appearing on newspaper Web sites for the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and the British Broadcasting Corp. all blasted the design, sparking a steady flow of comments demanding a replacement.

An online petition posted by Jonathan Ellis Monday has generated more than 28,000 electronic signatures from around the world, many complete with scathing commentary, including repeated "Rubbish!" calls.

The criticism ranged wide. Many called the expensive price tag a waste of money, claiming that a national competition would have been more appropriate than using an expensive professional agency. Others balked at the design because it failed to capture the British spirit, saying the design was a source of collective embarrassment rather than pride. Still others complained that the "abstract" attempt was too much like a "1980s hangover."

London organizers pushed back, with Sebastian Coe, a former British distance runner and head of the local organizing committee, urging patience.

"It's not a logo; it's a brand that will take us forward for the next five years," Coe told BBC Radio. "It won't be to everybody's taste immediately, but it's a brand that we genuinely believe can be a hardworking brand."

Alex Balfour, head of new media for London 2012, also defended the logo in a blog entry on the Games' official Web site Tuesday. He called it one of the "biggest branding projects this decade," and wrote that it would allow the marketing of the Games to evolve over the next five years.

"Most of all, this is a brand to live up to which will force us to deliver [the] Games in a way which no other host city has ever done — not a comfortable blazer badge with 'endearing' qualities or cute London skylines, but a big statement of intent," Balfour wrote.

"We said we'd be bold. We will be. Would you want it any other way?"

But the answer to Balfour's rhetorical question remains a resounding "Yes" for many.

"My children could come up with a better design for a lot less money," Lanette Langford of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote on the online petition.

The branding of the London 2012 Games took another hit Tuesday when an animated segment of video, intended to promote the 2012 Games, was removed from the Games' Web site over fears that it may trigger epileptic fits — a concern confirmed to the BBC by a Games spokesman.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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