China: Rips Off CDs, DVDs...and Olympic Slogans?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 2/21/2008 12:00:00 AM
I am often delighted by the range of stories that the Financial Times puts out. When it comes to genuine "scoops," the FT is hard to beat. Here's another case in point: the apparatchiks were touting the slogan for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing ("One World, One Dream") as a homegrown creation reflecting the aspirations of the Chinese people, yadda-yadda. Actually, it turns out that an American advertising exec came up with the slogan. Knockoff CDs, DVDs, and now Olympic slogans? If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the PRC is an absolute slave to Western culture. No wonder it's so upset that Spielberg has pulled out from the Olympics. A week after Spielberg's action, state media is still bellyaching over the matter. Anyway, back to today's feature...

The “One World, One Dream” slogan of August’s Beijing Olympic Games was created by a US brand strategist on the basis of a phrase proposed by the honorary chairman of the organising committee, a local court has been told.

The Beijing Olympic Organising committee (Bocog) has publicly portrayed the official catchphrase as a “crystallisation of collective wisdom” based on a global appeal for ideas in 2005 that it says resulted in 210,000 suggestions.

The stress on collective credit reflected Beijing's determination to encourage public participation in Olympic campaigns as well as Bocog's general approach of limiting scrutiny of its preparations for what will be China's biggest-ever international event.

However, faced with a lawsuit from a participant in the campaign who says he suggested “One World, One Dream” first, Bocog was forced to reveal details of the personal contributions of George Hirthler, a veteran Olympic brand expert, and He Zhenliang, former sports vice-minister.

Mr He had proposed “One World, One Future” but Mr Hirthler argued that this option “lacked the power of dreams”, Bocog witnesses said during a court hearing late last week, according to a lawyer familiar with the proceedings.

“They weren’t satisfied with anything they had, which is why they were asking me if I would help them,” Mr Hirthler said in a telephone interview.

A Beijing court on Monday dismissed the lawsuit from Fang Shouwei, a city resident, in part because he could not prove that Bocog received the e-mails he said he had sent to it suggesting the slogan, and because the committee showed it came up with the phrase independently.

A Bocog spokesman said on Tuesday that Mr Hirthler had been one of a number of experts that “contributed creativity” as part of the “collective wisdom”, but he declined to comment further.

Mr Hirthler said he had first come up with “One World, One Dream” as a possible theme for the 1996 Atlanta Games, but that, given the “iterative process” involved in selecting the slogan, he had been happy for it to be considered the fruit of collective wisdom.

Mr Fang’s lawsuit threatened to embarrass Bocog, which has repeatedly stressed its commitment to protecting intellectual property and says its slogan symbolises an “Olympic spirit of unity”.

However, China’s tightly controlled state media have not reported details of the lawsuit and discussion of it on the internet has been muted, prompting a complaint from one local blogger that online search engines were censoring news of the case.