Nazis invented the Olympic relay torch for the 1936 Berlin Olympics as way of adding their “ideals” to the Olympic games. Other bloggers have documented the details of how the whole thing – including the torch lighting ritual – was designed. The LEDE of the New York times has a link rich post for those who want to drill deeper. The Olympic flame itself was cooked up for the 1928 Olympic Games by an employee of the Electric Utility of Amsterdam. In isolation it still sounds like a fantastic product placement idea harnessing the fire symbolism that was peripheral to the ancient Olympics. It still would be if it wasn’t for the Nazi association of the relay,
Its the kind of symbolism that should have been dumped decades ago. It certainly doesn’t help the Beijing Olympic committee that has given an easy target for anyone who wants to make China look bad . Another case of public relations and branding gone horribly wrong.
Nazi symbols are a bad for brand management. Even less well known ones like the Olympic torch (lately its becoming less obscure). Such association make the symbol hard to rehabilitate. Like the Swasthika, an ancient symbol that is clearly beyond saving for another century or so.