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Amid thousands of flashing cameras, at a packed and agitated Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australian Aboriginal athlete Cathy Freeman made history as she lifted the symbolic cauldron in one of the most emotional moments of the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. Unforgettable to millions of people around the world, this magical moment on 15 September 2000 marked a turning point in the career and life of Beth Lula, Branding Director at the Rio 2016™ Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee.
A privileged spectator at the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Games, she sat alongside the waterfall formed on the stadium’s steps. Twelve years and many other historical milestones later, the sensation is still fresh in her memory. “To witness that ceremony was such a thrill. Watching the lighting of the cauldron ignited my certainty that I wanted to work for a cause and participate in this movement”, says Beth, who at the time was an employee of the Brazilian Olympic Committee’s telecommunications company partner.
In 2002, now as a manager at the Brazilian Olympic Committee, Beth became involved in the Rio 2007 Pan and Parapan American Games, considered the best ever edition in their history. She worked on the development of the candidature file for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and, following Rio de Janeiro’s victory on 2 October 2009, immediately worked on establishing the Rio 2016™ Organising Committee. In her department, she heads up the design, advertising and promotion, brand management, and Look of the Games teams, as well as the Spectators’ Experience area.
The body and soul of the Games
Responsible for the process that culminated in the creation of the Olympic and Paralympic logos, an unparalleled initiative in Brazilian design, which involved the participation of 139 Brazilian agencies in the contest, Beth now has four years to create the Rio 2016™ look.
Her team is responsible for creating, developing, managing and promoting the brands and symbols of the Games: pictograms, mascots, medals, slogan, the decoration of the competition and non-competition venues, countdown campaigns, ticket sales, volunteers etc. Accordingly, it is in charge of making sure spectators have a positive perception of the event through all points of contact.
“Our branding programme is larger and more complex than any other event in the world. We want it to go down in history. Our intention is to leave a legacy for the Brazilian design market, which is already well respected throughout the world for its technical capacity and creativity. We are doing it all here, with our minds”, she says. “The Rio 2016™ brands will make an impact on the whole world. Thus, their role is to inspire and sensitise several audiences and convey the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are aligned with our essence of passion and transformation”.
A trajectory full of major events
Beth Lula was one of the people responsible for the much-praised visual identity of the Rio 2007 Pan and Parapan American Games. The experience of organising the biggest sports event in the Americas, together with her observation and attendance at the last three summer Olympic Games – London 2012 will be her fourth – have contributed to an increasingly mature career, which has reached a new peak with Rio 2016™. As a director, she will play a leadership role in shaping the public imagination, before and during the Games, and for many decades afterwards.
“What we are doing will end up in a museum, literally. When someone 20, 30 or 50 years from now wants to find out about Rio 2016™, the first thing they will come across is the logo, the mascot, the pictograms and the medals. Our project provides the look of the Games. We are working with a product that is Rio 2016™, but the meaning is much more extensive and long-lasting than the competition days”, she says.
As a spectator at Sydney 2000, Beth Lula lived out a dream that will never be repeated. Exactly 16 years later, she will help thousands of people in the stadiums, and billions across the world, to experience equally unforgettable moments. “Moving people” is the brand of Rio de Janeiro.