The Sochi Olympics begin today, with the official slogan “Hot. Cool. Yours.” Really? It sounds like those old ads for the McDLT. What were they thinking?
According to the Sochi 2014 website, the word “Hot” represents “the intensity of sporting battle and the passion of the spectators, and it emphasizes the location of the Games, the southern resort city of Sochi.” But, um, aren’t these the winter Olympics, and isn’t it February? Now, apparently Sochi has a sub-tropical climate, and many events take place in mountains that are 25 miles away, but, still, no one has heat on their mind while watching downhill skiing. Apparently Russia is hoping to use the Olympics to promote Sochi as a warm weather vacation spot, and the slogan seems to have been ill-advisedly designed with this in mind. As for “the intensity of sporting battle,” I’d be tempted to criticize the Russian-to-English translator of the website, except that this turn of phrase sounds positively Homeric, and is certainly more evocative of the Olympic Games than this ridiculous slogan.
The Sochi website continues, “The word ‘Cool’ references the timing of the Games, the fact that it is a Winter Games, as well as alluding to traditional perceptions of Russia as a country with a cold climate in the rest of the world.” I believe that the winter games need not just “cool,” but “cold” weather (plus snow). My guess was that “Hot” was used to mean “hip, trendy” and “Cool” was used to mean…more or less the same thing, “hip” or “awesome.” Presumably the slogan was originally created in Russian, so I started wondering if these words have different connotations in Russian.
I asked my friend Geoffrey Carlson, who is a senior Russian-to-English translator/evaluator at Globe Languages Services, how the slogan has been received in its native land. He told me that literally it means “Hot. Wintry. Yours.” Apparently it sounds even worse in Russian and a lot of Russians are mocking it. “The word ‘hot’ in Russian also has sexual connotations (it can mean ‘sultry’ or ‘passionate’), so a lot of people are joking that it sounds like an ad for an escort service,” Geoffrey said.
As for the final word, “Yours,” it reflects an unfortunate strategy of insisting that people take ownership or pride in the event without giving them any concrete reason to be excited about it. And, with all the concern about graft and corruption in Russia’s handling of the Games, it has been the subject of jokes in Russian as well, with tweets such as “Sochi-2014. Crisp. Embezzled. Not yours.”
Finally, does a three-word slogan really need to be slowed down by three periods? The Sochi website says that “the dot after each word draws a parallel with high technologies” such as .ru or .com. Silly me, thinking they were just plain old periods, as in “This is your Olympic slogan? Oh. My. God.”
Do you agree that this slogan is pretty horrible? Which Olympic slogan from the last ten years do you think is the best?