London Olympics’ Hot Pink Mess Logo Fails With Millennials


London’s 2012 Olympic logo can’t catch a break.

Debuted to a collective groan two years ago and likened to a Nazi swastika, the embattled hot pink logo is now the bane of existence to the firm hired to market the summer games. “For us, it is irrelevant whether we like it or not,” said Brett Gosper, chief executive of McCann Worldgroup in Europe.

Marketers at McCann Worldgroup must incorporate the logo into all aspects of the Games’ promotional materials, including the official website and all digital media, as well as sell the Olympic mascot and tickets. While they would prefer to work with a more widely appreciated logo, they accept it as a widely recognized symbol for the games. “It has huge impact and awareness,” Gosper said. “It is famous or infamous. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”[more]

Marketers defend the logo, a graffiti design designed by London agency Wolff Olins, composed of four jagged shapes. They noted that it was created to appeal to younger, hipper generations, not stodgy older viewers. But Financial Times columnist Michael Skapinker spoke with a group of teens in London and found quite the contrary:

…London teenagers love their city, are excited about the Olympics and are embarrassed at what the world will think when it sees that logo. “Whoever designed it must have been drunk,” is a frequent comment. But it is when I tell them that the logo was specifically aimed at their generation that they become incandescent. They feel patronised, condescended to, insulted.

The London 2012 logo backlash demonstrates the Millennial generation’s branding-savvy before their years. Today’s youth can detect brand incongruity and posses heightened radar for pandering. Brands seeking to appeal to youth markets need to learn how to interact in youth culture. Young people are more receptive to brands that interact in new information channels, like social media sites, rather than those who adopt false identities.