John Treacy, creative director, Elvis, and board member of the MAA
John Treacy, creative director, Elvis, and board member of the MAA
A view from John Treacy

Think BR: The creative legacy of the Olympic Games

What can we expect to be the creative legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games, asks John Treacy, chairman of the Marketing Agencies Association (MAA)...


It’s all we can talk about now we don’t have any moonwalking horses or Greco-roman wrestling to watch at 10:30 in the morning.

A lot has already been said about what should be the sporting and financial legacy of the games and rightly so.

But for me watching the games I couldn’t help but think what a brilliant expression of British creativity as well as sporting prowess they were.

So what have we learnt? What might be the creative legacy of the games?

I’m going to start at the beginning. The bid. The ultimate pitch.

I remember looking at the original designs for the Olympic Park and being blown away. The aquatic centre, the velodrome, the original athletics stadium. The way the venues were all connected by pathways that looked like a continuous stream of sinew and muscle, it was inspired.

However my next thought was, ‘I bet it’ll end up looking like a giant aircraft hangar in Slough’. Because pitch work as we know, never runs.

But it did.

Sure, the athletics stadium ended up being a giant Meccano set but the other venues stayed true to a lot of the original ideas.

Against all the odds the architects and designers found a way to keep the integrity of original vision. The designs evolved but they did not compromise. There was no dumbing down by committee.

This I feel set the tone. Then we had the opening ceremony.

Let’s be honest, we were all expecting the worst. What we got however was a singular vision that was both silly and subversive, something uniquely British.

And it was unique in that for once it felt like its creators had not been edited in any way. In fact No.10 had reportedly approved spending an extra £25 million to realise Danny Boyle's vision.

They trusted his talent. And Zaha Hadid’s talent. And Thomas Heatherwick’s talent.

This I feel could be the creative legacy from the games that agencies and clients alike should be inspired by. Work with best creative talent you can find and trust it. The results will amaze you.

Because look what happens when you resort to the clichéd, lazy and obvious.

You end up with the Spice Girls dancing on black cabs.

John Treacy, chairman of the Marketing Agencies Association (MAA) Creative Directors Group and creative director of Elvis