Wednesday was a really exhilarating day. Literally tens of people, most of whom were based at ECB HQ, wet themselves with excitement as the new logo for the most anticipated sporting innovation in history (or so we’re supposed to believe) was launched.

And boy did it live up to the hype – that’s the negative hype that assumes anything connected to the ill conceived Hundred is duty-bound to be pants.

So what have the ECB got for their money? Ironically they’ve had their pants pulled down. A friend of the blog, who is an experienced brand design consultant, described the logo as ‘something I’d expect a first year design student to come up with’.

Meanwhile, the experienced art director I frequently work with, who used to win pitches for big London agency McCann, described it as bland, amateurish, and lacking any redeeming features whatsoever.

The thing that stuck me – apart from the fact that the logo is entirely black (normally you’d expect something colourful for kids) – is that the identity has no obvious connection to cricket. Therefore, when seen at a glance amongst the thousands of other logos out there, nobody will have the foggiest what it means or what it relates to. Talk about a rookie mistake.

 

Rather than having the word ‘the’ uncomfortably shoehorned into the top left of the ‘H’, they should’ve put it in front of the word ‘Hundred’, so it acted as a bat handle in the design. At least this way, the logo would’ve spelled out the name of the competition in the shape of a cricket bat. People might then realise that The Hundred has something to do with cricket.

As someone who works in marketing, albeit as a writer not a designer, I often come across design groups who peddle terrible work for astronomical prices. The problem is that anyone with a Mac can learn InDesign and call themselves a designer these days. And unsuspecting clients – quite frequently middle-aged businessmen with expertise in other areas – are easily taken in. In fact, the more they’re charged the more they’re convinced they’re getting good value. It’s a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes.

Now perhaps I’m being unfair. These things can be subjective after all. I don’t know which agency the ECB used – they probably used a highly reputable company – but if they did The Hundred branding clearly isn’t the agency’s best work. How do I know that? Because the accompanying marketing collateral, which carried the slogan ‘The Hundred Is Coming’, was demonstrably appalling in every way. The person who put it together should have been fired on the spot.

For starters, the image consisted entirely of men between the ages of 18-35. Everyone knows this is NOT the ECB’s target audience. Where are the Mums and kids we were told about? What’s more, if one Googles ‘men watching sports’ or similar, it’s one of the very first images to appear. Therefore the designer put in about as much effort into sourcing a suitable image as Inzamam Ul Haq put into running quick singles.

This point was highlighted in hilarious fashion by Dave Tickner on Twitter, who demonstrated that the same image has been used to promote just about every product under the sun. That’s kind of what happens when you pick the first picture you see in an image library. This really is elementary stuff.

 

What’s more, as a copywriter, I’m pretty appalled by the hackneyed headline too. ‘The Hundred Is Coming’ is obviously playing on the popularity of Game Of Thrones’ ‘Winter Is Coming’ slogan.

Talk about jumping on bandwagons and showing no original thought. The only worse option would’ve been a ‘Keep Calm And Watch The Hundred’ headline. In fact, I bet ‘Keep Calm’ was their first choice until the only bright spark in the office pointed out that the ECB want people to get excited rather than stay phlegmatic.

Finally, didn’t anyone think that GOT – just about the most adult show on TV, packed full of sex, nudity, and gratuitous violence (I love it!) – wasn’t exactly the most suitable programme to reference? Indeed, have any kids actually heard of Game Of Thrones? The play on words would’ve gone straight over their heads.

The final insult was the paragraph blurb alongside the headline. Here it is in full:

An action packed, unmissable new 100-ball competition is coming next summer. One that puts you on the edge of your seat. Featuring some of the best players from around the world, competing in 8 brand new city-based teams.

Existing cricket fans will recognise this as disingenuous drivel. The bit about ‘some of the best players in the world’ particularly sticks in the craw.

The Hundred is scheduled to clash with an international T20 competition, so many of the best players will be over there, India’s players won’t be allowed to take part, and what’s more even England’s best players won’t be involved. They’ll be playing test matches at the time.

I’m sure that some international mercenaries will sign Hundred contracts for the cash – that’s what motivates them after all – but it’s worth pointing out that some of the world’s best players already feature in county cricket. You know, the counties. Remember them? The T20 Blast has always has a number of big names involved.

Although some will see this article as yet another example of ‘traditionalists’ having a pop at a competition they don’t like, there’s something very serious to contemplate here. The ECB are gambling big time by introducing this tournament. The stakes are extremely high. If Harrison’s Harebrained Have A Hit fails then English cricket is well and truly in the shit financially.

The problem is, thus far the introduction of HHHH has been a disaster. There’s been confusion about the format, disagreements with the PCA, arguments with some counties, and PR own-goals galore. And if they can’t even get the initial branding right on the day they launch a charm offensive, what hope have they got of making the actual competition a success? It doesn’t exactly bode well.

Before I sign off, I’d quickly like to mention Tuesday’s ODI at Bristol. You all know what happened by now so there seems little point in describing the match in detail. Besides, it was pretty much a carbon copy of most England matches these days: our batsmen smacked it everywhere and our bowlers got smacked.

Plus ca change. These flat-as-a-pancake type pitches hardly help though.

James Morgan