Lightning round: Usain Bolt’s mighty meme
by Miles Seiden
You’ve heard of Planking.
Enter Bolting, the latest meme to take the Internet by storm. And unlike its photo-fad predecessors, it looks like it’s going the distance.
In this age of inattention, such a claim might seem premature. But Bolting, also known as the “To Di World” pose, is not just a passing trend. It’s backed by the fastest brand in the world.
Since 2008, Brand Bolt has made serious strides. This was the year when international spectators first witnessed a talented Jamaican runner assume his to-be-signature stance—right arm bent back, left stretched forward and both index fingers pointed toward the sky. Usain Bolt, the man with a name so fitting it seems forged by Zeus himself, had just set the World Record in the 100-meter dash. In less time than it will take you to finish reading this paragraph.
Flash forward to 2012. Basking in the afterglow of another record-setting 100-meter Olympic finale, Bolt is poised to have the world at his feet. He has collected a cadre of some of the most recognizable brands to back his own—Puma, Visa, Virgin, Nissan, Hublot and Gatorade, among others. He has leant his likeness to an ad campaign for the Jamaican Tourism Board, developed his own iPhone app and is the star of a self-titled, biographical movie. He even began a foundation for underprivileged youth in his home country of Jamaica. All of which feature Bolt’s deistic demonstration.
The man is moving fast, without a doubt. But he knows how to build a brand. His iconic pose, rendered as a single-color silhouette, has become something of a logo—à la Air Jordan’s Jumpman and the NBA logo. Bolt realizes that although he will not always be running, he will always want to move in the direction of a champion. As a statuesque figure facing right, his symbol represents freedom—that he can be anything and do anything that he wants. Beyond referencing Bolt’s obvious talents, this simple pose and symbol has extended his aspirations to Jamaica (which just celebrated its 50th anniversary as an independent country) and to the collective imagination of the world.
Drawing inspiration from Usain Bolt’s trajectory, I feel like Siegel+Gale is due for an iconic pose of our own. “Simplifying,” anyone?
Miles Seiden is a senior designer for the Siegel+Gale Los Angeles office.