The Olympics. The Biggest Brand Brought Back

If you had told someone in the late 19th century that 100 years hence, the Olympics would not only be the world’s greatest sporting event, but a company whose mere name attracted billions in revenue, they would have called you nuts. We are sure that they called Pierre de Coubertin such a nut. Here was a guy who like amateur sports, who had a passion for history, and who happened to find inspiration in the archaeology of some old track and stadium dug up in Greece. And lo and behold, he and many others made it happen again.

I think of this as the ultimate example of the untruth in the idea that things cannot be brought back. The Olympics was definitely a brand that  by all accounts, could not have been revived. But through imagination, it happened. Ditto with the Globe Theater. Who would have thought some Jewish guy from Chicago, Sam Wanamaker, would up and decide that London needed a Globe Theater again? How presumptuous. You can hear it now. “Nice idea. Doesn’t he know that we don’t need a Globe Theater to love Shakespeare!”

Ditto with the Egyptians and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, or the rebuilding of the Alexandria Library. How dare they rebuild such a place that Ptolemy created? Hosni Mubarek knows that such a country as Egypt cannot afford a library?

Colonial Williamsburg. The Rev. WA.R. Goodwin is nuts. What does he think rebuilding an entire colonial Virginia town will really accomplish? Did you know he actually prayed for this, expecting it to happen.

Some thoughts:

  • What other ideas out there are interesting?
  • What was, but still could be?
  • What great thing lies unfinished?
  • What great company or idea died before its time?

I do not have exact answers to these questions, only ideas. Yes, it is a fun question to ask. But it’s more than a fun question, really.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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