Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Double take! What happened here?

Great News! The Southbank Centre has announced details of its 60th birthday celebrations, which will take the shape of a homage to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Not so good news though, someone has somehow decided that what the Festival of Britain logo was lacking first time around was bloody great MasterCard logo hanging off the side of it.

It's great that the event is being sponsored by MasterCard. It's important that exhibitions like this should take place, and in these austere times corporate sponsorship should be received gratefully. But that said the balance/relationship between the sponsor logo with the Festival of Britain logo is just baffling.

We can all imagine the scene:  The designer looks at the his customer facing colleague with barely concealed contempt and says 'So, let me get this straight, "you've" agreed with the sponsors that they could slap their logo where?'

But seriously, this complete disregard towards the heritage of the event so that MasterCard can associate their brand with it sends out completely the wrong message for both the event and the Credit Card. It screams "Brazen opportunity to stick our logo somewhere!" rather than a more sober "MasterCard are proud to sponsor this important event".

The more you look, the more it smacks of corporate bullying, as if an argument took place where they threatened to pull the funding if they didn't get it their way. An argument played out in Adobe Creative Suite. That probably wasn't the case, it just looks that way.

However, let's go back a few years to the 1998 World Cup in France, which was also sponsored by MasterCard. We know first hand that they at one point proposed suspending a giant MC logo between legs of the Eiffel Tower  - only to be turned down flat by the Parisian authorities. Our point is, even though MasterCard didn't get their way back in '98, it didn't stop them from continuing to sponsor the event. Sometimes you just have to stand up and say, thanks for the money, but the sponsor's logos go in these allocated spaces.

I think the real explanation is that in this case MasterCard just got lucky with a spineless "Yes Boss!" at the South Bank Centre, and, grateful for the cash, they decided to let MC do what they like, for an easy life.

Which is a real pity.

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