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Unless you happen to have been one of the people who authorized payment of around $800,000 for the design, or were on the receiving end of it, then the chances are you will agree with the momentum of public opinion that the London 2012 Olympics branding sucks. In fact, it more than just plain simple sucks, it sucks elephants through a straw is how bad it is. But as well as being offensive to the eye, this campaign has shown how technology can attack both your product credibility and the health of those viewing it.


The credibility thing is commonplace. The London 2012 Olympic Committee is hardly the first to waste good money in a desperate attempt to appear trendy, or as a spokesman claimed “dynamic, modern and flexible” and able to work with “new technology and across traditional and new media networks.” Already the more astute readers will be thinking Emperor’s New Clothes, and I suspect that you are right in reaching that conclusion.


But that is just the half of it. What really concerns me, considering the amount of money spent developing this branding and the campaign launch to publicize the London Olympics, is that fundamental basics have been overlooked. Basics that are there for good reason, to protect the public from over-enthusiastic techno-nerds.

You see, a series of TV adverts were produced to introduce us all to the new logo and the Olympics branding, and these were broadcast in the UK to coincide with the logo launch.


Unfortunately, the animation of the logo during one part of the video, where a diver hits the water and the multi-colored splashes form the geometric shapes of the logo design, provoked the largest ever number of complaints about TV induced epileptic seizures recorded in the history of UK television.


Although the offending piece of video has been edited and the epilepsy effect no longer exists, the whole debacle could have easily been avoided in the first place. Scrap that, should have easily been avoided in the first place. There have long been guidelines in place around the world, from OfCOM and ITU in the UK for example, that govern how material likely to cause seizures is handled. Regulation compliance testing is available to all; using the Harding Flash and Pattern Analyzer and this would have quickly shown that the clip was likely to do bad things to sufferers in the audience. Cambridge Research Systems, the makers of that pattern analyzer, ran the unedited footage through the system and found it contravened OfCOM broadcasting guidelines during at least 126 frames.


Even the Mayor of London, more noted for his love of newts than new technology, was quoted on the BBC news as saying that “I assume they've checked this to make sure it doesn't trigger epilepsy in someone? You assume when you pay for an advert to be done, they'll do it within the existing legal and health requirements."

Well quite. Still, it’s a lesson learned and one that should be absorbed by anyone creating animated content for the web as well. Provoking seizures amongst your audience is not the best way to get your message across…

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by MattEvans
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My god it is ugly....
Why did they have to change eveything in the first place? And besides, I thought when you change things they're supposed to be made better or something....

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I liked it when Lord Seb Coe went on the news to deflect criticism by saying it was meant to be viewed as a dynamic moving image not a static one (which is a tad difficult in print, on posters, on the badge they have had made etc) and that it would grow on people over time.

Just like an infectious fungal disease, and about as attractive.

I cannot see even Seb Coe being able to run fast enough to escape the fallout from this one...

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what do you expect when you try to get a brand created on the cheap?
The going rate is several million at the very least...

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but there's most likely a very good reason why it's so bland.
Anything more interesting is bound to offend someone somewhere for some reason and we can't have that...

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Of course there is always the question of whether the Olympics actually needs branding, beyond an event specific logo/identity that is?

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The whole "olympics in london" thing makes me mad anyway. The government's lied about the cost, is continuing to waste millions + which would be better invested anywhere else (millenium dome anyone?), and has made out like every citizen of england is going to benefit from the olympics in a vast way.. It's only a sporting event; get over it.

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It seems like parts of the english government think it's absolutely neccessary to show off our country's prowess to the rest of the world, whatever the cost, and in whatever respect. To some english citizens, myself for example, it seems madenly pathetic. I'd be more proud of my country if those in power cared less about the global show, and more about 'real issues', like terminating our one-way foreign-policy relationship with the US, terminating the office of airheaded spin showmen in politics, applying our laws equally to everyone ( including politicians and the mega-wealthy ), proactively helping out people in other countries and at home who can't afford even the most basic of secure lifestyles, and quitting lying about how decent and correct our country is compared to other countries.
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It doesn't suprise me that they (the british government and associated groups) can't do things right in this relatively tiny respect; they don't think far enough into the future, or enough about the implications of their official actions (beyond those which get momentary media attention and poll ticks). to get anything right.

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