The outcome is likely to come as a surprise to Studio Conran and Dragon Rouge, as it was understood that these groups were the two finalists in the Greater London Authority’s competition.
Wally Olins’ group Saffron was not in a position to confirm whether it had won the contract as DW went to press. However, sources close to the process say the consultancy has scooped the work.
DW reported in September 2009 that Saffron had entered the competition, but there were no reports of its continued involvement until now.
Saffron designed the marque for the capital’s marketing arm Visit London in 2006, and in 2008 launched The City Brand Barometer, a study to assess the strength of city brands (www.designweek.co.uk,18 August 2008). London and Paris came top in the study.
The GLA’s self-imposed deadline to pick a winner came and went in mid-September 2009. It is understood that until informed of its failure to win the tender – which is believed to have happened this month – Studio Conran had not heard anything from the GLA since September.
Former Studio Conran managing director Sebastian Conran says he believes the GLA failed to plan the tender properly. ‘We were given very little time to work on the tender,’ he says. ‘There was a delay in sending out the briefs, and we had about a week to work on the concept. The middle of August was a crazy time to put a pitch out, as you aren’t going to get the focus of all the best designers [then].’
In November 2009, Johnson Banks founder Michael Johnson blogged an account of the final presentation, which took place in September. An alleged ‘deep throat’ informant had told Johnson that during the meeting, London Mayor Boris Johnson had asked, ‘Why are we doing this?’ The GLA declined to confirm that Saffron has won the tender.
The story so far
- Summer 2009 – the Mayor’s Office and the Greater London Authority launch an open competition to find a new visual identity for London
- September 2009 – the deadline for entries passes and six groups are shortlisted
- September 2009 – Studio Conran and Dragon Rouge thought to have been brought on to the final shortlist
- January 2010 – Saffron understood to have won the competition