2012 Olympics Promotional Video (partially found controversial Olympic advert; 2008)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its disturbing subject matter.

Myra Painting.jpg

Myra by Marcus Harvey, the most controversial artwork shown in the commercial.

Status: Partially Found

A three-minute promotional advert showcasing the city of London ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games featured a short clip of a portrait of the infamous serial killer Myra Hindley. The video was made by London’s tourism board “Visit London” and showed many different aspects of London culture.[1]


Myra Hindley was one of the most notorious serial killers in the UK. Between 1963 and 1965, she and her boyfriend Ian Brady murdered four children and buried their bodies on Saddleworth Moor. After they were both arrested, Myra's mugshot was printed in the newspapers where the image would become synonymous with evilness in the eyes of the British public. The portrait shown in the video is called “Myra (1995)” and was created by artist Marcus Harvey who remade the murderer’s famous mugshot using children's handprints. It was first shown at the Sensation exhibit in 1997 at London's Royal Academy of Art. Many of the artworks in the exhibition were controversial but “Myra” caused the most outrage among the public. On the opening day of the exhibition, there was a protest outside the academy from the group Mothers Against Murder and Aggression and inside the exhibit, the portrait was vandalised twice.[2][3][4][5][6]

Beijing Party and Aftermath

In 2008, a party was held in Beijing at the London House celebrating the handover of the next Olympic games to London for 2012. At the party, a promotional video made by Visit London played on a big screen for the guests. Attending this party was UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, London Mayor Boris Johnson and many other important people. The video showcased many different aspects of London’s culture, however, what caught people's attention was the brief second the portrait of Myra Hindley was shown on screen. After the party was over a spokesperson for Downing Street said "The use of this image is in extremely poor taste and it should not have been used to promote London."[7]


Visit London has said that “The video is not for general public use and has been used many times over the last few years to show to the tourism trade.” They have also said, "However, if any offence has been caused, we will withdraw it from use with immediate effect.". Contrary to the first statement from Visit London the video was said to have been on their website in the past. Part of the promo can be seen playing in the background of an interview by CCTV (China Central Television) where the portrait is shown for a brief second.[8]


Video with the advert showing in the background.

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