London 2012 Gets No Medals For Its Dreadful Marketing



"Is this the worst marketing in the world?" asks France TV Info. Every Olympic Games has to have their official clip, logo, mascot and anthem, says the French TV news channel, but the choices made by London 2012 are just terrible.

• An animated clip that triggers epileptic seizures:

Charity Epilepsy Action, reports the BBC, has received calls from people who have suffered fits after watching the official animated clip. "This concerns a short piece of animation which we used as part of the logo launch event, and not the actual logo", said a London 2012 spokeswoman. She explained the incriminated section showed a "diver diving into a pool which had a multi-colour ripple effect".

Epilepsy Action said the images could affect the 23,000 people in the UK who have photosensitive epilepsy. The section of the clip has since been removed, but the original footage can be seen on You Tube (CAUTION: not for the faint-hearted -- or people suffering from epilepsy, obviously).

• A logo that is racist and obscene (and also too expensive):

Is it a broken swastika... or Lisa Simpson engaging in sex with Bart Simpson? There are multiple interpretations to London 2012's jagged logo. Iranian Olympic Committee President Mohammad Aliabadi wrote to his International Olympic Committee counterpart Jacques Rogge to complain about the fact that the logo can be seen as spelling out the word "Zion," which he considered "totally revolting."

The logo, designed by Wolff Ollins cost 400,000 pounds ($623,000). When the BBC website asked its readers to rate the design, 9.51% gave it a gold medal, 4.87% silver, 5.9% bronze and 79.69% a "wooden spoon."

• Mascots that are ugly and scary:

Wenlock and Mandeville are the Games' very kitschy mascots. They are supposedly made from droplets of steel (see video below) used to build the Olympic stadium, writes The Guardian -- but seriously, says the newspaper, these one-eyed aliens are the stuff of nightmares. What are they supposed to be?

• A dreadful anthem:

Muse had perhaps one of the more thankless tasks in crafting a song for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, says the Los Angeles Times: writing a song that represents the host country and doesn't embarrass it. What's more, the lyrics have to be easily translatable for the entire globe, and it should play OK on TV.

The result, writes the newspaper? Dreadful! Singer Matthew Bellamy doesn't even sound like he's having any fun, twisting his vocals into all sorts of strained contortions as he sings of staying alive and wreaking vengeance. This isn't a song for the Olympics as much as it's a song for "The Hunger Games."

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!