Back in 1992, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and some others on the Dream Team covered up the verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry expensive Reebok logos on the red, white and blue jumpsuits the team wore while accepting their gold medals. Those of us old enough to recall even remember some hand-wringing when Mister Nike Air himself implied that he might not attend the gold-medal ceremony with the offending logo on his gear.
Twenty years later, due to the explosion of megabranding in the sportsworld (itself absolutely due in part to David Stern’s all-pervasive corporate and commercial blitzkrieg by his league, already a dozen years old by ’92), the O2 Arena in London will be challenged by corporate logo problems for the 2012 Olympic Games.
As it turns out, the Official Telecommunications Sponsor of the 2012 Games is British Telecom, a rival company to O2 and its owner AEG-Electrolux. Thus, the venue will not be referred to as “O2 Arena” throughout the games. Too bad for O2 and AEG, who bought naming rights to the former Millennium Dome for a big £116 million (approximately €126.8 million).
The bigger headache, however, is certain to be experienced by London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd., a.k.a. LOCOG. To wit, what the hell are they going to call the place? O2 has refused permission to have the stadium re-rechristened The Millennium Dome – and, to be honest, in 2012, “Millennium Dome” will sound as antediluvian as “information superhighway.” Currrently, LOCOG is referring to the O2 with the neo-Orwellian sounding acronym NGA1 or “North Greenwich Arena 1.”
LOCOG is reportedly “looking at a marketing strategy to combat any confusion” — confusion that will start with the refashioning of several subway stops with advertising and/or infrastructure currently referring very expensively to the O2 Arena.
On the plus side for O2, the former Millennium Dome turned its first recent profit in 2008, coming out £15.6 million (€17.05 million) in the black for the year.
And the 2012 Olympics’ home team has officially signed their new chief sponsor: Visa. Now let’s just hope for Team Great Britain’s sake that Pops Mensah-Bonsu doesn’t sign on to do a “priceless” MasterCard campaign before then…