Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
Londoners object to Brazil’s idea to build a promotional replica Christ the Redeemer statue for the Olympics.
Iconic city symbols tend to stand in as representations of the cities themselves. The Eiffel Tower is as much a representation of Paris as the Statue of Liberty is of New York City. And when you think of Rio de Janeiro, the first image that likely pops into your visual brain is the mountaintop statue of Christ the Redeemer.
The city knows the suggestive power this statue has, and it’s been a phenomenal marketing tool and tourist attraction. So it made sense for Brazil’s tourism board, Embratur, to suggest building a 30-foot replica of the statue in London around the time of this summer’s Olympic Games. The idea is to capitalize on the power of this statue to call Rio to mind, and hopefully nudge some of the visitors at London’s Olympics to think about taking their next Olympic (or non-Olympic) trip to the Games’ 2016 site: Rio de Janeiro.
The idea has been roundly rejected by residents of Primrose Hill, the London neighborhood reportedly targeted to host the mock statue.
"We oppose it on the grounds that we don't want any advertising in the royal parks," Malcolm Kafetz, the chair of the Friends of Primrose Hill told the BBC. "Otherwise we'll have Coca-Cola there soon enough."
For its part, Embratur says the idea was just that: an idea.
"We are surprised to see this story in the news as this is only a concept that was being considered as part of a wider platform of promotional activities for Embratur and the Brazilian government for 2012, when the focus moves from London to Rio," the tourism board said in a statement.
Officials would not say whether the idea will still be pursued, but it’s likely that it won’t. And maybe that will work out best: much of the allure of such an icon is that you’re only able to see it in the city it helps make famous.
Photo credit: Bruno Domingos / Reuters