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One of my favorite parts about London is the Southbank. It’s right along the River Thames, and there are always crowds of people to watch and thousands of sights and sounds to take in. The Olympics amplifies this experience about 10 times.
If you’ve watched any of the Olympics you may have noticed commentators sitting along the river in a kind of moveable studio. This is really far from where the Olympic Park actually is, but I guess having the river in the background provides some sort of quintessential London feeling for television. Walking down the Southbank you see these pop-up studios about every couple of miles. The lights on inside and the commentators so removed from the excitement that lies outside of their little box.
Then there are the slews of marketing opportunities for almost every company you could think of. Target has taken over one section of a grassy area with giant-size Target bullseyes. Families flock to them. Kids run up to climb inside of them and crawl through a giant piece of plastic. As fun as these are for families, in some ways they are kind of an eyesore because it’s such a blatant marketing trick. Especially because, as far as I know, there are no Target stores in London.
Western Union even found a way to advertise on cardboard cutouts of Olympians that kids can stick their head through and become a sports superstar. It’s one of the cutest things on the Southbank that popped up for the Olympics, but I just find it amazing that even something as simple as a cardboard cutout is a billboard for a company.
Other than these installations there are also giant stickers on the ground that give Olympic facts and some that show the symbols for different Olympic events like this. There are kids running everywhere, families with strollers, live music from every part of the world, the smell of roasted peanuts every once in a while and just a lot of happy people. It’s really impossible to let anything bother you while walking along the Southbank during the games- even the excessive amount of marketing. There’s just too much excitement in the air.
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