The Pymlico spirit

Designer Roy McCarthy’s alternative Olympics brand is for people who want to celebrate the Games in their homes, shops or pubs, without fear of infringing the usage laws of the official 2012 branding

pub_ptvsportwhite_0.jpg - The Pymlico spirit - 4356

Designer Roy McCarthy’s alternative Olympics brand is for people who want to celebrate the Games in their homes, shops or pubs, without fear of infringing the usage laws of the official 2012 branding…

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr show last weekend, Lord Coe was interviewed about the legislation relating to the use of the London 2012 branding. His remarks were later quoted by Owen Gibson in The Guardian in an article McCarthy read and was inspired to act upon.

Coe claimed that the legislation was essential “in protecting the sponsors who come to the table with a lot of money to help us stage these Games”. For McCarthy, while this remained an understandable attitude to take in regard to regulating the involvement of the event’s major sponsors, such a heavy-handed approach has already prevented much smaller businesses, not to mention ordinary individuals, from using any element of the Olympics identity in their celebrations.

McCarthy’s solution was to create Pymlico, a free-to-use brand kit featuring a logo, posters, and various supporting identities people could download and use to show their support for the Games.

His project is centred on a target design very similar to the one designer Daniel Eatock designed as part of his bid for the 2012 Olympics logo nine years ago. In response to the reaction to the official 2012 logo, designed by Wolf Olins, in 2007 Eatock also made his roundel design available as an alternative logo for the Games, which could be downloaded from his website as an eps file.

“I had done a design that was more similar to Eatock’s, with its distinct rings,” says McCarthy, “but as I was about to make the mock-ups I thought I should research it and check, which is when I found his design. So I took the white out and started again with a new design, which became the “LOOK HERE!” logo. I expanded the idea, including a circular version. Since publishing the idea a number of people have pointed out the similarities between the two logos, but I think the differences between the two are big enough to mean there won’t be any confusion.”

In addition to the icon denoting where Olympics coverage might be screened, McCarthy’s graphic device also works across a “HEAR HERE” radio-themed poster. “The aim is to combat something that could become a problem for people who want to show support,” he says. “I wanted to turn that into an opportunity to help people, rather than moan about it, to fight a negative with a positive. Someone on Twitter called it ‘a great piece of pragmaticism’ – that’s a nice thing to say.”


Pymlico posters could alert passersby to the fact that this pub is screening the Olympics

And unlike the official visual identity for London 2012 and the numerous brands which have a presence on posters, press ads and TV broadcasts, there are no restrictions on the use of the Pymlico brand.

“I see it as a way of putting posters up in windows and saying ‘we’re watching the Olympics’ without using the rings,” says McCarthy. “I suppose I want people to respect the needs of the official sponsors, and at the same time show that they don’t need to use the official branding, if it’s unavailable to them.”

How the Pymlico brand might look on a black cab

More on the Pymlico campaign at and on Twitter at @VivaPymlico.


CR for the iPad
Read in-depth features and analysis plus exclusive iPad-only content in the Creative Review iPad App. Longer, more in-depth features than we run on the blog, portfolios of great, full-screen images and hi-res video. If the blog is about news, comment and debate, the iPad is about inspiration, viewing and reading. As well as providing exclusive, iPad-only content, the app will also update with new content throughout each month. Try a free sample issue here

CR in Print
The May issue of Creative Review is the biggest in our 32-year history, with over 200 pages of great content. This speial double issue contains all the selected work for this year’s Annual, our juried showcase of the finest work of the past 12 months. In addition, the May issue contains features on the enduring appeal of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, a fantastic interview with the irrepressible George Lois, Rick Poynor on the V&A’s British Design show, a preview of the controversial new Stedelijk Museum identity and a report from Flatstock, the US gig poster festival. Plus, in Monograph this month, show our subcribers around the pick of Barcelona’s creative scene.

If you would like to buy this issue and are based in the UK, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Based outside the UK? Simply call +44(0)207 292 3703 to find your nearest stockist. Better yet, subscribe to CR for a year here and save yourself almost 30% on the printed magazine.

  • Love the idea, all that heavy handed brand protection nonsense for the big boys is really annoying me. They have even changed some statute for the Olympics some regarding copywrite protection etc, which is rather worrying.
    That said, as a Londoner I just think of Pimlico near Vauxhall and thought when I first saw it that it had something to do with the area. I guess there weren’t too many legal options floating around. Here’s mine…

  • It’s a very good idea, and very nice design.
    However, it either makes me think of the rainbow flag (esp in the pub window) or an estate agent.
    It does go to show the general dissatisfaction with how the official Games stuff is being run…

  • Rhiannon Saunders

    Alternative olympic branding that everyone can use without getting sued!…. fab idea!

    and… A MILLION times better than the official logo, perhaps something we can be proud of and display? especially as the official logo looks like Lisa Simpson sucking someone off.

  • Marc Atkinson

    Love the idea of subverting the over stringent legislation around the use of the London Olympics brand. We need more of this.

    @Wheels London MMXII – brilliant! Let’s get it out there and wait for the police at the door…

  • Coop

    Similar idea to Daniel eatock’s alternative 2012 logo designed in 2009

  • latchyk

    Brilliant! As a designer working on a lot of ‘sports themed’ projects for this year we have had to find ways of representing the olympics without the olympics branding. This is great lets be proud to be hosting this ebent instead of hiding behind corporate sponsorship.

  • Ray

    I like it. Nice and simple.

    As @latchyk mentioned. Being bombarded with Olympic themed nonsense requirements (Particularly with HR clients) and this is a breath of fresh air.

  • Why didn’t they use a picture of Lisa Simpson on her knees and……

  • Cheesy

    Very good,

    the film “Passport to Pimlico” is great too.

  • heh – I had the same idea (although for a completely different purpose)

    I’m using the rings as a ‘target’ for an interactive piece of work I’m putting on at Watermans Gallery over the Olympics.

    If you’re interested?

    best, Graeme Crowley