This Event’s Provocative Logo Is Stirring up Controversy

Author: David McMillin       

Event marketers tend to create logos and graphics that convey their events’ themes in an appealing and compelling — and G-rated — way. Not so for the organizers of the 2018 World Chess Championship, scheduled for Nov. 9–28 in London, who weren’t trying to playing it safe with their event-marketing look. The unveiling of the event’s logo came with a disclaimer from the editors at that the “key visual is controversial and trendy, just like the host city.”

One look at the intertwined bodies in the logo stirred up some hilarious reactions on social media.

Did the World Chess Champion organizers go too far? If their goal was publicity — negative and/or positive — it’s clear that the bold marketing move is paying off. Chess isn’t exactly a buzz-worthy topic on most days, but the surprising visual has already sparked stories on SB Nation, USA TODAY, Huffington Post, and other mainstream media outlets. My personal favorite headline comes from Lisa Ryan at The Cut: “The New World Chess Championships Logo Is Extremely Horny.” Sex is used to sell, well, many things, but not many associate the moves of the Kama Sutra with moves of a checkered board. Yet here we are, nearly a full year before any players will arrive in London for the championship, and the logo is attracting loads of exposure.

“As organizers of the Match, we’ve been busy for over a year working with artists and designers to develop a perfect key visual,” the editors wrote in the announcement, “the image that will be associated with the 2018 Match and which will find its way onto mugs, posters, outdoor displays, venue design, broadcasting graphics and more.” (If you’re looking to spend some of your holiday cash on a gift for your office, you don’t have to wait for those mugs: Posters with the logo are going for $45.)

Perhaps you’re not looking to go to that extent to spice up your annual meeting’s visuals, but still want a fresh look. Here are some things you can learn from the “7 Biggest Logo Fails of All Times.”

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