Selling the Munich ’72 Olympics

As we prepare our special Olympics issue, one of the most interesting finds we’ve encountered is the official Munich ’72 merchandise catalogue. It reveals that the Munich Games was as keen to capitalise on its image as any modern Olympics…

As we prepare our special Olympics issue, one of the most interesting finds we’ve encountered is the official Munich ’72 merchandise catalogue, courtesy of Ian McLaren who worked for Otl Aicher’s design team. Here, the famous ‘wreath of rays’ emblem is applied to a whole range of products, revealing that the Munich Games was as keen to capitalise on its image as any modern Olympics…

The catalogue was made in 1971 by the Hamburg company, Fahnen-Fleck. The firm produced some of the Munich ’72 promotional items contained within (flags, banners, embroidered badges and textiles) and designed everything else through its newly formed Olympic Souvenir department, headed up by Sigrid Schüler.

The company’s current owner Andreas Fleck in fact provided the PDF of the 1972 catalogue you see here (while McLaren kindly let us photograph his original copy for the forthcoming issue). Fleck tells us that his father Heinz was an adviser to the Olympic Committee in Munich, and responsible for the marketing, design and distribution of the official souvenirs. Olympic Souvenir then licensed other German companies to make the products.

According to McLaren’s correspondence with former Munich colleague Nick Roericht, the only souvienir designed directly by Aicher’s studio was Waldi, the official mascot of the Games. Waldi’s creation was overseen by Elena Winschermann. Roericht recalls that Aicher apparently agreed to design the mascot “because of its symbolic statement,” but that, “he couldn’t get used to the idea of designing all these unfunctional things”. Hence Waldi appears in the official Munich Design Manual, but the other souvenirs do not.

Compared to the sports, cultural and ‘artists’ posters produced for the ’72 Olympics, the famous pictograms and the sunburst emblem, the merchandise reveals a different side to the Munich Games, but one that ultimately remained under the control of Aicher’s design guidelines for using the logotype and symbol.

But for me it’s certainly an eye-opener that one of the Games most celebrated for its rational, modernist approach, with its inflections of the Bauhaus and the Ulm school directly influencing Aicher’s Munich studio model, also found a space for inflatable Waldis, vinyl records, umbrellas, tumblers, aprons, matchbooks, keyrings, even ceramic candle holders.

Aicher’s aim had been to bring a sense of lightness and optimism to the Munich Games, ridding the spectre of the 1936 Olympics in the process. So in a way, while the commercial reality of the Games is on show in the catalogue, it’s also its  playful side Games, epitomised in the page of Waldi-related material (a nod to the wooden toys of the Bauhaus), which comes through.

The August issue of CR, our Olympics special, features an interview with Munich designer Ian McLaren. The exhibition Munich ’72 is on now at the Herbert Read Gallery at UCA Canterbury. CR’s Olympics issue is out July 25

You may also like

569_4.jpg - Illustrations to aid bookshop navigation - 4479

Illustrations to aid bookshop navigation

Stockholm-based designer Patrik Svensson has created a set of 20 illustrated signs for a branch of Jashanmal, a chain of bookshops in the United Arab Emirates…

lanes2_0.jpg - London 2012: the look of the Games - 4518

London 2012: the look of the Games

As final preparations for the London Olympics continue, the LOCOG design team gives CR an exclusive tour of the Olympic Park and the installation of the thousands of graphic elements making up the look of the Games

lwlcover388_0.jpg - Little White Lies' woodcut Lawless cover - 4524

Little White Lies’ woodcut Lawless cover

If you’ve seen the most recent issue of Little White Lies magazine and your first reaction has been to mutter ‘mmm, woodcut’ under your breath, then this short film of how the cover of its Lawless edition was made is a real treat

parragon_115x115

Packaging Designer

Parragon Books
birmingham-city-uni

Designer

Birmingham City University
Nut_115x115

Communications Editor

National Union of Teachers
gardenesque_115x115

Designer

Gardenesque
Hand3 copy

Photography Annual

Showcase your photography work to over a million people in more than 80 countries, across every segment of the creative industry.

Enter here