The sponsors’ language of the games

An unofficial style to the Olympics has emerged and the proof is all around us, cheering us on from every billboard in sight. Agencies striving to find a contrast to the London 2012 identity has resulted an unofficial yet universal style. These pieces of communication are a world apart from the highly visual and disruptive vision Wolff Olins had for the games. The campaigns use typographic bold statements, powerful photography, and keep colour to a minimum, often using the logo in it’s single colour form apologetically tidied away to the side.

The fact that all these brands have created ads in a similar vein is interesting; instead of embracing the brave and bold identity, have brand directors been worried that as the public perception of the 2012 identity has been negative, it is not a visual style they want to be associated with? This is a shame as we could have seen a well considered and joyful universal style, to really tie the visual side of the games together and to become a celebrated pin-point in our nation’s design history.

That said, the freedom of being part of a universal conversation has led to some refreshingly simple and highly beautiful imagery lining our city’s streets, as brands don’t have to work so hard to let you know what they’re talking about (or selling) with bold typography being the key element to the majority of the campaigns. Successes include official sponsor Adidas with ‘Take the stage‘ and Nike proclaiming ‘Game on, world‘. Sky are also supporting from the sidelines, changing their tagline marginally to become ‘Believe in Britain‘ and Powerade are going to help us ‘Power Through‘. These are all set upon powerful portrait photography, and sparing in application. The films which form the campaigns all run under a similar vein also – slow motion action footage against a voiceover of suitably rousing copy.

In the not-so-great camp are Panasonic and Samsung, who disappointingly seem to think that a unconvincing comp of athletes and products coexisting in the same world makes a striking and inspirational message.

The overall effect of having these messages on every street corner is something we as a city are are not used to. Will the unprecedented levels of roused Londoners result in swarms of commuters being all riled up without a race to run? What must we as consumers do to step up to the plateā€¦ buy some sportswear perhaps?


  • I agree, although I think the brands that aren’t official sponsors (Nike included) latching on is more annoying but understandable.
    I’m not sure about past Olympics and there sponsors because as the host city we are visually consumed by it all. I am not surprised that brands haven’t adopted the Olympic styling by Wolff Olins (rolled out by FutureBrands), not because it was bad, but because I doubt they were ever going to adopt it.
    To do so would have smudged their own message with the official event messaging, and I think these simple, cleaner messages are actually a positive, stark contrast. Which, let’s face it, is vital at the moment in the quagmire that is Olympicmania.