Branding the largest entertainment show on television for the 21st century is no easy task. Each year, broadcasters raise their game in attempting to produce a look that covers multiple mediums and lasts for six months of the year, surviving indefinitely. This year, it’s Portugal’s turn to shape the Eurovision Song Contest for the very first time, as they gear up to host the event in May 2018.
Last year, National Television Ukraine hosted the contest for the second time, having previously held the event in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv back in 2005. ‘Awakening’ was the theme adopted by NTU over ten years ago; this was only the second contest to be presented in the new format, with national broadcasters having the freedom to alter the edition theme in keeping with the new generic standard. On the second ocassion in 2016, the national broadcaster opted with the theme ‘Celebrate Diversity’, using a rigorous and cost-effective solution to the annual change by opening the opportunity to brand the contest to tender.
2016 – Kyiv, Ukraine
In late 2016, National Television Ukraine opened up the branding process for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 to external private companies, selecting eleven Ukrainian design agencies that they saw fit to put in a bid and concept piece in the hope of branding the annual event. It was revealed that ‘Banda’ and ‘Republique’ were behind the ‘Celebrate Diversity’ project in early 2017 – however, it has since been revealed that banda+republique’s joint submission was the only submission considered for the contract.
Discussing the open process earlier this year, executive producer Viktoria Romanova explained the reasoning behind the open process and the importance of inviting Ukrainian designers to complete the project.
“We did not want to attract international companies based outside of Ukraine, for us it was crucial to invite only Ukrainian professionals in this selection – to showcase the results and show the world the best of our country’s talents.”
– Viktoria Romanova
According to Pravda Ukraine; Havas, BBDO Ukraine, ThinkMcCan, ADVENTA Lowe, J & I, Art Nation (UDC), Arriba, Banda agency, Republique, Green Penguin and TWIGA Idea – were all invited to submit a bid and concept design work for the contest. In the end, five did, but only Banda and Republique were approached – joining forces to create one identity for the event.
In line with 2017’s low budget, the two companies were invited to create the winning concept piece for 420,000 UAH (14,378 Euro). The assigned budget was for the creation of fifty-five unique branding materials, from metro lighting to delegation handbooks. After tax, and on the basis that each of the two companies received an equal amount, both Banda and Republique were set to receive 175,000 UAH (5,991 Euro).
The theme, ‘Celebrate Diversity’, was visualised through the creation of a piece that is centric to the history and culture of the host nation, Ukraine. The identity is designed to mimic the shape of traditional jewellery known as ‘Namysto’ – recognised as a protective amulet and “symbol of beauty and health”.
“Incorporating this beautiful and meaningful logo based on a traditional amulet gives not only a sense of history and heritage but also a modern look and feel. As the production grows from these themes, we are very much looking forward to seeing what is sure to be a fantastic event in May.”
– Jon Ola Sand
Sources: Pravda Ukraine, National Television Ukraine, Banda Design Agency, Republique Ukraine, ADME.UA, the Government of Ukraine.
2017 – Lisbon, Portugal
The official strap of this year’s contest will be “All Aboard!”, chosen to represent a ‘celebration of Europe and music’. The slogan was inspired by Lisbon’s longstanding history as an important global seaport and the importance of the ocean in Portugal’s history as a nation. The ocean has connected Portugal to the rest of the world for centuries, and this connectivity is intended to invite people from across the world to come together to celebrate music through the Eurovision Song Contest.
Speaking about the slogan, Gonçalo Madaíl, Creative Manager of RTP, said:
For centuries, Portugal explored the world by sea. Today, Lisbon is more and more the city of all colours, a great harbour of cultures and sounds that welcomes you all to come aboard!
Along with this slogan, RTP has also revealed the official annual event branding for the contest. In a Eurovision first, the organisers have opted for twelve responsive logos falling under the maritime theme; including images of shells, waves, plankton and other forms of ocean life. These different sketches are intended to reflect the diversity of Europe as a continent of people, whilst still highlighting unity and connectivity: these logo variations indicate the mix and obscurity of life found underneath one ocean – similar to the Eurovision Song Contest, acting as a means of uniting the different cultures and peoples of Europe and beyond.
History of the Brand
Le Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne, as it was known for nine years, has not been shy of changing with the times. The Eurovision Song Contest is watched by over 200 million people worldwide each year and is known for being a leading force in experimental broadcasting.
Since 2004, when the first official generic logo of the Eurovision Song Contest was introduced, broadcasters have been invited to produce their own unique themes for the contest to accompany the new, constant, Eurovision identity – and reflect on their nation and time hosting the contest.
Turkish broadcasters TRT first showcase the new generic identity and latched on the theme ‘Under the Same Sky’; a message of unity and acceptance of diversity. When hosted in Istanbul, the nation city went mad for the then almost fifty-year-old event being hosted in the country for the first time. The streets were lined with flags showcasing the new logo, banners covered building sides, and the city came to life with this whole new way of hosting the event. Though it may seem as if this is all a great way to promote the contest to the people of the city, it was more about promoting the city to the contest and has remained so ever since. The theme art for the year depicted a modern Turkey – one of great architecture, acceptance, and a love for music – of course, also in red and white to really engrave the country’s national colours into your mind and spark a subliminal connection between the enjoyable time when the country hosted the contest and the Turkish flag.
After Ruslana won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004, the event moved north to Ukraine for the first time. ‘Awakening’ was the theme, showcasing their rising nation and marking themselves as an international player and a new force to be reckoned with. Using traditional symbols within the theme art, Ukraine played off national culture and history as they embraced the music of a continent.
In 2006 the contest shifted to Athens for the fiftieth edition. The opening minute of the show explained the logo and theme without the use of text or speech – depicting the Phaistos Disc. Once again, the host nation opted to theme the international event around their history and culture, rather than the contest itself. Jumping forward to 2009, however, this began to change.
Russia hosted the contest in 2009 for the very first time. Since 2002, it was the first time that the contest went without a slogan and the theme art was not particularly relevant to the country. Instead of using the Eurovision brand to sell their country, Russia used the stage and the arena. At the time it was the most expensive stage the show had ever seen – breaking tradition, but setting a new precedent for future editions. Over 30% of the world’s existing LED screens were used to produce the stage, a stage that was not only incredibly high tech in terms of screens – but a responsive stage. The LED portions that floated above the heads of performing artists could be programmed to move – allowing each performance to be held on a new stage design. Over 25,000 people were in the Olimpiysky Arena – Russia were showing the way in terms of broadcast quality and grandeur.
As the contest was held in Norway and Germany, the national advertising aspect of the event began to fade. ‘Share the Moment’ and ‘Feel Your Heart Beat’ were the themes, each rather generic, each promoting the event over the country. It looked like a new era, until Azerbaijan won the contest.
In 2012, the Azerbaijani national broadcasters used the theme ‘Light Your Fire’, focusing in on the nation’s rich oil history and reference as being the ‘Land of Fire’. Previously Azerbaijan sent Dilara Kazimova to the contest with a song called ‘Start a Fire’, and frequently stage their entries using vast pyrotechnic displays and fire-based design. In Baku, a new arena was erected specifically for the contest and the city was reinvented ready for a wave of international tourists to venture to Europe’s most distant corner. For the first time, Azerbaijan was in the spotlight – an entire continent of potential visitors were about to see the capital city of Baku – and the Azerbaijani national broadcasters wanted a piece of it.
In 2013, Swedish design agency Happy F&B designed the theme art behind the ‘We Are One’ strap. Happy F&B are an internationally renowned agency, responsible for the Thomas Cook rebrand and anniversary redesigns of SVT and the Liseberg theme park. Using the idea that the slightest of breezes or actions could, in turn, create a tornado – the much-loved butterfly imagery was used to portray the significance of an artist’s performance at the contest. Christer Björkman and SVT decided to host the contest in the small city of Malmö, using a smaller arena and keeping costs low. In 2016, when the contest returned to Sweden, a significant profit for was made for the nation as costs were once again kept to a minimum.