Reading Room Tangent Graphic Union

Behind the Commonwealth Games Bid

By The Drum, Administrator

November 29, 2007 | 9 min read


The brief was quite simply to create an iconic brand identity to help support Scotland’s bid for the Commonwealth Games.

Tayburn was appointed to the high-profile brief following a closely-contended seven-way pitch at the end of 2005.

The agency combined a number of elements that were important to the bid; it included people to reflect the "friendly games," it included "XX" to reflect that 2014 was the 20th Commonwealth Games, it had a reference to the Saltire to reflect the fact that this was Scotland’s bid not just Glasgow's but a nod to Charles Rennie MacIntosh in the typography grounded the games quite firmly in Glasgow.

There were many different audiences because there were many different stakeholders and interested parties. However, the key audience, certainly in the early stages, was the general public of Scotland. Without their support the bid could well have stumbled at the first hurdle.

Tayburn did a lot of work in the early stages creating a number of sporting images on a special modern tartan the team designed. The tone was one of national pride and these images helped create impact and cohesion across a number of campaigns that kick-started the bid.

Tayburn created an identity that reflected the essence of Scotland's bid. And also created some of the campaign materials that generated over one million pledges of support for the games. But the vast majority of the credit must go to the bid team. They have pulled off a great victory for Scotland and it’s good to know that we played a supporting role.

The Union

The brief given by the Bid Committee was to raise awareness of Glasgow's Bid to host the Games in 2014 and to gain widespread support for the bid as a positive contribution to the development of Glasgow.

The target audience was the people of Scotland, with an inspirational and inclusive feel to the communications.

The work was ultimately successful, helping towards the winning result, the crucial measure of success.

However, the campaign was extremely well received by the public and was favourably commented on by many people - including the visiting delegates from other Commonwealth countries.

The key task of the advertising campaign was to encourage the general public to feel a part of the process.

The Games were positioned as important benefit for everyone, not just those who would participate in them.

The posters were devised to make everyone feel involved in the Bid and to encourage a sense of civic and national pride. They also helped communicate the message that bringing the Games to Glasgow was all about the future - ultimately, the advertising helped galvanise the broad public support that was so evident on 9 November.

Tangent Graphic

Tangent Graphic was involved at various stages of the 2014 Bid campaign. The agency's brief was to produce informative literature for the public and raise the nation's awareness about specific stages of the Bid, most notably the Decision Day on 9 November.

Tangent, a Glasgow-based design agency, initially designed material publicising Glasgow's existing infrastructure and future vision for the games. A range of venue guides and maps were produced outlining the strategy being put in place to deliver the Games to Scotland, and encouraging the public to back the bid. A stylized execution of the venue map gave the creative a unique look and feel, helping generate further excitement in the Bid by highlighting Glasgow's impressive plans for the event.

Tangent also worked closely with the Bid team to deliver the "We'll be Watching" campaign that encouraged people to view the results of the Bid announcement live from Sri Lanka. The campaign ran across a variety of media, including television, outdoor advertising, print, web and digital marketing. Shooting on location with photographer Alaisdair Smith, the campaign featured various groups of people to reflect a wide cross section of the community.

The agency later produced design and animation for the positive announcement for 9 November. Displayed at both the showpiece event in Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket where a capacity crowd celebrated the result, and on various media screens throughout Glasgow, these pieces helped set the stage and reflect the party atmosphere across the City that evening.

"Tangent Graphic have been one of many creative agencies that Glasgow 2014 has worked with in delivering the branding and marketing requirements of the Bid. While working with them in delivering the countdown campaign, Tangent creatively delivered all the requirements of the 'We’ll be Watching' campaign and innovatively tied all the announcement and celebratory branding activity into a consistent and strong message working to tight deadlines," said Lynne McPhee, head of marketing and deputy bid director.


Following Navyblue's experience on the 2008 Euro Championships bid for Scotland and Ireland and its success in developing the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic bid, Navyblue was tasked with designing and managing the process and final production of the Candidature file.

This comprised of two case-bound documents presenting over six hundred pages of content required by the CGF (Commonwealth Games Federation) to measure Glasgow's competencies to host the games.

Once it had secured the bid document work, Navyblue was employed to re-energise the existing brand and produced design guidelines that all other third parties were required to follow.

Other adhoc pieces of collateral were produced along the way.

Quite simply the candidature file was targeted at the 71 member Commonwealth countries who each had a vote in Sri Lanka on the 9 November.

This was predominantly an informative document - word counts and page counts where prescribed by the CGF. Bearing this in mind, confident clarity was key with an economy in the design and written word employed.

This was the key item, the foundation behind all of the other communications exercises employed throughout the bid.

Delivering the ultimate performance of a campaign doesn’t happen by accident. Having a coherent, hard-working brand behind the campaign is critical in making sure your product, service or organisation delivers on its objectives.

Reading Room

Reading Room was delighted to be asked by the Glasgow 2014 bid team to create a website as part of the campaign to attract the Commonwealth Games to the city.

This site showcases Glasgow, the bid, and the people and communities involved – and also encouraged people from across Scotland and the UK (and later internationally) to register their support. In addition, the site was easily managed by the bid team themselves who could update news and upload videos.

Reading Room's Manchester office created a website that more than achieved its purpose.

The design included flash animation; a 'venue navigator; RSS feeds; and integration with Glasgow City Council's internal systems making all page content updateable by the bid team.

The second phase created an up-to-the-minute information platform on the bid – and user-generated content enhanced the enthusiastic Glaswegian support by allowing people to upload footage of them taking part in sports activities, and play an interactive long jump game that could be used for viral purposes.

Ultimately, Reading Room’s objective was to support the bid team’s marketing campaign. When the winning bid news came from Sri Lanka at 12.30 GMT on 9 November the site homepage immediately changed to reflect the success of the bid - and over 25,000 unique visitors viewed the site on that day alone.

Broadcast Business

Louise Martin took the podium in Sri Lanka to face 71 Commonwealth delegates – in the knowledge that her performance could be the deciding factor as to whether the Games came to Glasgow. The hopes of the nation hung on the next 30 minutes.

The Bid organisers had wanted to be certain their message was crisp, clear and inspiring.

They invited tenders for communications experts to help them in polishing the skills of all those who had to sell Glasgow to the Commonwealth.

More than 100 companies applied - and the Broadcasting Business won the contract.

Founders Bill McFarlan and Alan Douglas, both former BBC TV presenters, then ran 15 training sessions.

"We asked them all the awkward questions," said Douglas "and helped them polish positive answers."

With trainer Bronson Forshaw, McFarlan and Douglas then ran three evening seminars - aimed at anyone who could come in contact with a visiting delegate.

"One focussed purely on listening skills," said Forshaw. We wanted to make sure that they could listen really closely to the concerns and aspirations of delegates and feed all of it back to the Bid team.”

With only weeks left to the Sri Lanka showdown, McFarlan then began working with the presentation team of Louise Martin, Glasgow Council Leader Steven Purcell, decathlete Jamie Quarry and First Minister Alex Salmond. Four further sessions in Glasgow and Edinburgh followed.

"I regarded it as a 4 by 400 meter relay race," said McFarlan. "Each had to run the race of their life...and pass the baton on effortlessly to the next presenter."

McFarlan then flew with the presentation party to Sri Lanka five days before the 9 November presentation. "Each day I worked on the script to fine tune it...and with the presenters to make them as comfortable as possible with the occasion," said McFarlan.

"And when they presented the bid, they nailed it. The delegates loved

it - and Glasgow won the bid."

Reading Room Tangent Graphic Union

More from Reading Room

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +