We have placed cookies on your computer to help make this website better. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.
Don't show this message again

Controversy over London 2012 Olympics Logo


When the brand for the London 2012 Olympics was launched on 4th June, the sensation it caused in the British press was not exactly complimentary. The logo has been greeted with outpourings ranging from disdain to downright mockery.

The Sun newspaper in an attempt to illustrate how little it thinks of the logo even asked a blind woman, a 10 year old boy and a monkey to create alternative logos, in the space of 10 minutes – and claimed their attempts to be superior.

Chief organizer Sebastian Coe defended the logo claiming the graffiti-style design was created to draw the attention of young people. An official Web site shows flashing and moving images of the logo, which – in a departure from previous games – has no visual imagery of the host city or country.

This reaction is certainly embarrassing for the Olympic Committee, especially when you consider that the brand’s design cost around £400,000. But even more embarrassing is the fact that they have had to withdraw the animated logo from their promotional website.

The promotional video worryingly triggered the largest number of epileptic seizures ever seen in the UK when it was shown on TV and the internet and even affected some people who had been seizure free for many years.

And this could have been prevented had the video been tested with the industry standard, the Cambridge Research Systems' Harding Flash & Pattern Analyser which assesses if images are likely to cause epilepsy in those who are photosensitive. When it was later tested it was found to contravene Ofcom industry guidelines on at least 126 frames - showing that automated checking could have prevented this incident.

The Harding Flash & Pattern Analyser is used by many major broadcasters and production houses to analyse TV programmes to check that they comply with international guidelines on flashing and regular patterns.

A spokesman for the charity epilepsy action said: "The brand incorporates both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which is ironic as the latter is a showcase for athletes with disabilities. People can strive for years to gain seizure control and it is important that nothing puts this at risk."

Epilepsy affects 1 in 131 adults in the UK and around 5% of those suffer from photosensitive epilepsy. This means that their seizures are triggered by certain frequencies of flashing light, or by contrasting light or dark patterns (e.g. stripes or checks). The frequency of flashes that most commonly trigger attacks is between 5 and 20 flashes per second (Hz).

The cause of photosensitive epilepsy is unknown.