Team GB is the brand name used since 1999 by the British Olympic Association (BOA) for their Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic team. The brand was developed after the 1996 Summer Olympics, and is now a trademark of the BOA. It is meant to unify the team as one body, irrespective of each member athlete's particular sport. It forms part of a marketing strategy, where its brevity is seen as beneficial. The brand is seen as controversial by some, for focusing on Great Britain, at the expense of Northern Ireland, with critics suggesting it be changed to Team UK, something the BOA has so far rejected.
Team GB branding from 2012
|Product type||National sporting branding, associated merchandising|
|Owner||British Olympic Association|
|Registered as a trademark in||United Kingdom|
The British Olympic Association's director of marketing, Marzena Bogdanowicz, felt that the official and abbreviated names of the Great Britain Olympic team were a mouthful. She first thought of the 'Team GB' concept in 1996 or 1997, and said: "I went to the games in 1996 and the logo at the time was just the lion and the rings, but we weren't strong enough as a brand to just be a lion and the rings. So coming back I wanted to find something that was less of a mouthful, and also had that team feel. We looked at the options and came up with Team GB".
The name was trademarked in September 1999 at the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO).
The BOA state that there "is only one Olympic team from Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Team GB. There is not an Olympic swimming team or Olympic rowing team. The individual sports join to become Team GB, the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic Team."
The Team GB brand was used as part of a licensing and merchandising strategy following the BOA's athletes success at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Bogdanowicz stated that the BOA wanted to "cement the Team GB brand in the minds of the British public".
Calls for renaming
The team is officially known as the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic Team, and the use of Team GB as the BOA's branding is seen as inadequate by some, as it suggests the team is drawn from Great Britain alone, which only consists of England, Scotland and Wales, while omitting the rest of the territories where BOA athletes are eligible for selection, most notably Northern Ireland, as well as the Crown dependencies (Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey), and those British Overseas Territories (BOT) that are not represented by their own National Olympic Committee.
In June 2009, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Sports Minister Gregory Campbell suggested that the name should be changed as the abbreviated form was not inclusive enough as it "excludes, and indeed alienates, the people of Northern Ireland". Campbell's successor, Nelson McCausland, also suggested that an alternative name be found.
A significant complication is that the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), established in 1920 while Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, claims to represent the whole island of Ireland and not merely the Republic. The OCI and BOA have an agreement under which Northern Ireland sportspeople may choose to compete for either team, and in fact most Northern Ireland athletes choose to represent the OCI at the Olympic Games and not Team GB.
The BOA has rejected calls for the name to be changed to Team UK, arguing that neither Team GB nor Team UK are entirely accurate, given that neither term covers all the members of its association, and that Team GB is an "effective trading name that fitted best with the Olympic identification of GBR".
The Team GB branding has been credited with creating a 'team feel', and direct comparisons were made of the performance at the 1996 Olympic Games in which the BOA's representatives won one gold medal, and the 2000 games where Great Britain and Northern Ireland performed under the Team GB name and returned with eleven gold medals.
Comedian and columnist David Mitchell described the BOA's decision to create a nickname and rebrand their representative team as "capitalism's final victory" and "pathetic", going on to say that anyone who thought rebranding the Olympic squad has helped win more medals "are either morons or they think our athletes are". Scottish columnist Gerry Hassan commented that "Team GB represents something which is a fiction and an illusion which doesn't correspond with any political form".
'Our Greatest Team' was the slogan used by the BOA for the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
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