Sochi 2014: a portal to ‘the future’

SOC_Olympic logoRGBSochi 2014 recently launched its new brand, emblem and tagline (‘Gateway to the Future’) for the winter Olympics, introducing the first ever Olympic Games emblem that also forms a web address.

Apparently it’s “an iconic symbol of contemporary Russia and a key milestone in the preparation of the Games”.

Hmm, iconic you say? An article in the Economist’s Intelligent Life magazine (sadly, it isn’t available online) delivered a salvo on the “iconic epidemic”.

You can’t switch on the television these days, or open a newspaper, without hearing the word ‘iconic’. Everything from the new American president to the old British phone box has been hailed as an icon . . . People have written about an iconic baby lotion, an iconic cassoulet, an iconic enema, an iconic shoehorn and an iconic Coventry City football shirt of the 1970s, as well as umpteen iconic buildings and celebrities. The word “iconic” is “cosily religiose, softly spiritual… It is today’s expression of humankind’s perennial bent towards aggrandisement.”

Here are some other iconic Olympic logos, all the way back to 1924. But we digress.

According to a press release, the new brand focuses on promoting open dialogue between nations and fans, showcasing a contemporary Russia and celebrating the most innovative and inspirational Olympic Winter Games ever staged. A tough ask, especially with an emblem that our anonymous expert design mole thinks is “kind of insipid”.

“Mountain? Meeting the sea? What?,” our anonymous expert design mole says.

The release says: “The Sochi 2014 emblem maintains a dialogue between the past and the future. Fusing various dimensions of Russian culture, the brand can promote several images of our vibrant country: a country rich in history, embarking on a successful future; a country open to opportunities and the passion to make dreams a reality; and a country that is committed to equality and celebrates diversity.”

Interbrand was responsible for the work and James Bickford, head of strategy for Interbrand New Zealand, thinks New Zealand should follow in Sochi’s footsteps and digitise its Rugby World Cup brand.

“We should take a lesson from this decision. As we count down to the Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand, a country on the edge of the world, we should also ensure our hosting of a global event is connected to the world through the use of social media and digital participation.”

IOC President Jacques Rogge says social media will spread the Sochi brand through online channels, reaching the youth of the world quickly and in a format that they appreciate (but wouldn’t they do that anyway, with or without a .ru added to an emblem?).

Greg Forsyth, managing director of TribalDDB, says using digital domain names is not unheard of in commercial organisations, with the most visible local examples being in the airline sector, “where substantial self-service websites are the norm and you see planes sporting domain names as a result”.

“As e-commerce and even pure play entertainment offerings grow in the New Zealand market you can expect to see this particular approach become much more commonplace – and indeed may also cross over into non-commercial operations, such as sporting and music events.”

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