The Hundred Branding: A Bag Of Spanners

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. So did The Hundred branding live up to hype?

In a word ‘no’ – unless you’re referring to 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 The Hundred branding as bland, amateurish, and lacking any redeeming features whatsoever. I bet the team uniforms end up being terrible too.

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 Hundred branding 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 branding 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 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’s ‘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. County cricket has long attracted the best white ball players in the world but the ECB does sod all to promote The Blast and other county competitions.

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 (much). 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 s**t 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 Hundred 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

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  • Well what a shambles it is James. Blimey I could do better than that. Wonder what they paid for this rubbish. It doesn’t even imply what sport they are talking about. Where are the mum’s and kids? Can’t see this trash attracting anyone bar the drunks.
    Slightly off subject. But I am incensed by this: down at Taunton watching Surrey vs Somerset CC. we’re suffering from injuries and are a bowling short.The petulant children running the ECB decided Sam Curran needed to be rested after his “exertions” at the IPL. After all he must have played for at least 8 hours through the competition and bowled a good 30 overs. He’s 20, not 37 like Anderson, and needs and wants to play cricket to develop as both a first class player and a test player. I understand he’s pretty upset. But of course this is the ECB trying to tell Surrey it’s the boss, because we don’t see eye to eye over the 100 or indeed the future of injured Ollie Pope, but I won’t go into that one now. Personally I’d end central contracts which are divorcing county cricket from test cricket big time, and let the counties decide who plays when and where. As Boycott once said you don’t improve sitting in the dressing room.
    Sorry to go a bit of subject James but this is yet another example of why this f***ing organisation stinks. Revolution is in the air in politics, it’s high time in happened with this lot.

    • Just like the beginning of last season when the ECB said Malan couldn’t play for Middlesex and then didn’t pick him for England !

  • It is an utter fiasco. They cannot even get the initial publicity right, which only really required selecting an adequate picture. A thorough own goal. I cannot wait to hear the team names.

    Have you heard the drivel Ashley Giles spewed in the Telegraph?

    “Some people have said to me we don’t play the Hundred internationally so it has no relevance to our game but that is rubbish. We are not talking about cricket being played in clown suits or stood on your head,” Giles said.

    “This should be high-performance cricket, improving the performance of our team and there cannot be better timing for me as we go into a period after this World Cup where we play two Twenty20 World Cups.”

    As in better (T20 WC) preparation than an actual T20 competition? And players’ statistics are not going to be assimilated with their Twenty20 statistics so they’ll basically be wasting centuries and wickets on some weird oddity which only exists in England, whereas they could adding those centuries and wickets to their statistics by playing T20 in the Caribbean.

  • Not even the worst event in the last week of The Hundred! That particular honour still rests with Simon Hughes’ Podcast that attempts to defend it .

  • Presumably as usual the person who came up with branding went to school with/is a relative of the person at the ECB choosing the company to do the branding.

  • Maybe I’m on my own in this one… I think it looks alright. It’s only a logo!

    • Even if one thinks it looks alright, the rationale behind it is still flawed; therefore it’s unlikely to resonate as the ECB wants. To invent something new, and then come up with a logo that doesn’t remotely hint at what that thing might be, is daft imho.

      • Can you define why you like it and explain what’s good about it?

        If you were not a cricket fan (i.e. the target audience for this new competition) what would you think if that logo flashed past on a bus? You wouldn’t have a clue what it was all about.

        If you look at the FA Cup logo there’s a cup with ribbons on it. This shows it’s something to do with sport. If you look at the UEFA Champions League logo it’s got a football on it (or stars shaped like a football) so people know it’s related to football. And both these competitions have well established brands and don’t even need any introduction. Even the Barclays Premier League has a Lion, which is the emblem of English football. And if we look stateside at the NFL, there’s an american football in the logo. And the NBA has the outline of a basketball player.

        If you saw the words ‘The Hundred’ flash past, your first reaction would be ‘eh’? And your next reaction would be ‘I don’t care as I’m having to work a bit here’. And your third reaction might be “oh right, they’re bringing that second rate US sci-fi drama The Hundred back for another series’.

        This logo is so bad on so many levels. It simply hasn’t been thought through.

    • Doesn’t fill you with confidence though to have an uninspiring logo. Maybe it is the perfect logo for the product because it is that bad.

    Maybe the ECB should have tried Blue Peter and let their viewers compete in a design competition.
    They have designed Christmas stamps before now, so why not.
    It’s incredible after all the hype to launch this competition how low key, indeed almost anonymous it is.

  • Blimy! Just gone to their website and the picture has changed again!

    This time it’s some kid at, what looks like, a T20 match!

    Hope they got the parents permission to have it published!

  • Was probably the first thing they looked at, either before or after their liquid lunch. If it was before they just wanted to get to lunch, if it was after, well, they’re 4 pints in at that point and probably want a nap. It’s the perfect logo really, almost no effort which reflects on why the competition even exists in the first place (the lowest effort in re-invigorating the game and getting people playing and watching, just copy and paste the IPL and figure “well if we make 20% of what that makes we’re golden”)

  • And now Finals’ day will feature one SF? Because scheduling cricket all day would contradict the ECB’s claim that nobody can concentrate these days (because of ipads or something)? But they can concentrate for 200 balls of cricket?

    Give Harrison another 100k for coming up with that one….

  • If only Sky didn’t have the contract to show it, so they could lay into the whole thing with abandon.
    Then all the pundits could say what they really think and not tread water for fear of reprisals.

  • Just when I think they can’t get any more incompetent, they go and do something like this. I’ve can’t remember seeing a worse bunch of malcontents before in my life (excluding british politicians).

  • Good article in the Standard by Will Macpherson about how misleading the ECB’s data on the nature of cricket crowds is. That’s on top of Andrew Miller’s revelation that they’ve released one sheet of A4’s worth of their 100 zillion (or whatever it was) “data points”.

    Really it all seems to boil down to 9m watched the 2005 Ashes, 1m watch cricket now so the ECB think there must be an untapped market for cricket of 8m. Not seeing any flaws in that logic….

    BTW, if cricket crowds are mostly affluent, isn’t the obvious conclusion condemnation of the ECB’s price gouging in recent years?

    • 9m watched the 2005 ashes as it was really good cricket, went the full five days mostly, win, lose and draw were all as exciting as each other as the games were close and not snooze batting fests had really good players on both sides..

      Ithad highlights on tv

      Most of all.. it was entertaining.. genuinely entertaining enough for those with little to no interest to be inspired by it.

      Show me any series since then which has been able to get close to that level of entertainment..add to that the fact games of all formats are generally so boringly one sided ..

  • The Lib Dems are using a catchy phrase with regard to Brexit.
    It could easily be adapted for the Hundred, of which I’m not part of the target audience.

  • It has all the worst aspects of uninspired imagery of directionless crowds and a blunt instrument of a name. It’s about as far away from cricket as it’s possible to be. Maybe they should keep the logo and change the sport – sorry – product.


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