Some thoughts on the London Olympic slogan, which has been ‘unveiled’ by LOCOG today. (Not sure how you unveil a slogan). The chosen slogan is ‘Inspire A Generation’, which most commentators agree is pretty uninspiring.
As I said on Twitter, it reads more like the brief than the answer.
Slogans are tricky things to generate – many of the best ones arose by accident, conceived as part of an ad campaign, often without a long-term future in mind, but growing naturally to take on the status of a brand line. As soon as you begin a formal process to generate a slogan, you’re facing an uphill struggle.
This is partly because even the best slogans can never tick every box in the brief. They’re not rational animals. If Nike had drawn up a detailed brief for a new slogan, ‘Just do it’ would probably have been rejected. The brief would have asked for something warmer, more engaging, less confrontational. As it was, ‘Just do it’ was a last-minute line conceived for a single campaign, which then grew in status after it received a positive response. It’s hard to re-create a process like that.
That said, LOCOG could have done a better job. ‘Inspire A Generation’ is a reasonable sentiment and ties in with the overall bid theme, which is a focus on young people and the legacy that the games will leave. But the best way to inspire a generation is to have a more inspiring brand message.
At this point, it would be nice if I could supply a brilliant answer myself. Given the brief, my first reaction would have been to question whether they needed a slogan at all. Is it really worth trying to hang everything on one phrase that will probably get slated by the media in any case? I’d also have warned them not to expect a single slogan to answer all their expectations. I’d have supported the idea of an open competition, but also encouraged them to get a panel of copywriters to cast an expert eye over them and suggest other answers. And I’d have sent them the recent Creative Review slogans issue, which shows how haphazardly a great slogan comes into being.
But some first ideas? I wondered about something trendy like #GBPB – the idea being that everyone in Great Britain this year should be aiming to achieve their PB in whatever they do. (PB = personal best – we’ll hear the abbreviation a lot this summer.). It’s a message that appeals to everyone and is cast in the language ‘the kids’ speak. Maybe #worldpb is less jingoistic. Either way, the media would probably hate it.
A more grown-up version of the same sentiment might be ‘Excel yourself’, in the sense of urging people not simply to spectate, but to get involved in the Olympic spirit – do whatever you do better than you’ve done it before. It’s a hard one to say ‘meh’ too on Twitter without sounding like a lazy oaf.
I’d like to think I’d arrive at a better answer than either of those, but they’re there to demonstrate the point that, if ‘Inspire A Generation’ is the brief, there are many potential creative expressions of the same thought.
But ‘Inspire A Generation’ will do its job to an extent – it gives the media something to talk about for a few days. It’s a three-word slogan that you can stick on all the merchandise. And it won’t scare the horses – no one could really object to such a safe sentiment.
Doubt it will make the next slogans issue of Creative Review though.
NB: I was going to use the 2012 logo to illustrate this post, but decided to use Daniel Eatock's alternative logo instead.