If you haven't heard, they've changed AOL to Aol. and are using lots of different background images instead of...whatever was there before.
I thought I'd give the client's perspective on this whole episode, seeing as how the debate so far has been limited to designers bitching because they didn't get to work on it.
The work was produced by Wolff Olins in New York. Their reputation would have been a big draw for the client but so would: a) a receptionist with big bristolas, b) nice offices close to their offices and, c) the size of the lunch they laid on at the first meeting.
Let me tell you, as a client, when all those three are in place, you just pin back your ears, take a sip of single malt and let them bullshit you as much as they want. Unless the work features images of disabled children, rape victims, war crimes or Madonna, you sign it off and schedule another lunch pretty fucking soon.
Clearly, the bullshit would have been flying thick and fast as the agency sold in this work. I mean, it's not a logo. It's loads of logos. This places you outside the comfort zone of common practice, so you'd need to be bullshitted into a pretty comprehensive state of confusion before you signed it off. I'd guess the client was still digesting a nice lunch (probably something heavy like pasta, so as to increase wooziness and susceptibility to lies, bollocks and nonsense) so was open to something different.
Then there's the issue of AOL becoming Aol. Here I have to take my hat off to the agency. Sometimes, the sheer balls they show in selling that kind of thing with a straight face deserves respect.
Finally, the bill. This has all the hallmarks of a marketing department desperate to empty the budget before next year's is fixed. 'If you don't spend it, you don't get it next year' is the financial rule of marketing departments the world over. A great way of doing it is to shout 'rebrand!' at a board meeting and everybody starts getting all excited at the impending lunches.
In short, then, designers should stop bitching and whining and criticising Wolff Olins for being bare-faced conmen with balls so big they'd need to book a separate seat for them when they fly. Look at your own approach to work. Do you get the client half drunk, stuffed fool of rich food and befuddled by women with cracking jugs before you sell the work?
No? Thought not. That's why you're you and agencies like Wolff Olins aren't. That said, I'd have asked them to change it all once my mother had a look at it (she's nearly target audience). I mean, come on. It's fucking horrible, isn't it? And I know my logos.
Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!