The power of authenticity

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The 2018 FIFA World Cup poster was launched this week so it was nice to see my official poster for the 2002 FIFA World Cup featured on the BBC yesterday.

I was recently telling the story of its creation and the value of ‘authenticity’.

To cut a long story short..

We created lots of official poster ideas and presented them at organising committee meeting in Tokyo. The standout creative idea was a football pitch made of calligraphic brushstrokes with the new FIFA World Cup logo at the centre spot.

I was looking forward to presenting the routes but what I vividly remember was the head of the Korean Organising Committee looking me in the eye with a little bit of frustration saying “I love the poster idea, but my CHILD could have created better brush strokes than that!“. What he meant was that the passion, integrity and intensity in the brushstrokes was missing – skills only a true master of calligraphy could provide.

He was right.

I’d actually purchased some calligraphic brushes and precisely recreated brush strokes to mock-up what I thought was an ‘authentic’ poster. What I’d failed to understand was that true calligraphy takes many years to master.

So we set about turning this to our advantage and we hired the two best calligraphers – Byun Choo Suk from Korea and Hirano Sogen from Japan – and set up a intensive two days of creating bold brushstrokes saying paper and ink. There was sweat dripping on the floor and big smiles all around.

And the simple moral that can be applied to all brands and business…

Authenticity is very hard to copy.


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