BBC Sport's Olympics coverage has begun in earnest, with the unveiling of its animated marketing campaign and titles, created by Jamie Hewlett, the artist behind Tank Girl and Gorillaz.
The campaign – which is set to be more or less unavoidable over the next month as it's rolled out across TV, radio, online, mobile and interactive outlets – is a re-imagining of 1970s children's TV character Monkey, and features music by Hewlett's Gorillaz collaborator, Damon Albarn; last year, the two finished a Chinese opera project that works along broadly similar lines.
The project is based on traditional Chinese characters and folklore and tells the story of Monkey's quest – the Journey to the West. For the two-minute main animation, the journey is re-imagined as a journey towards the 2008 Olympic Stadium: Monkey and his friends Sandy and Pigsy battle a variety of monsters using Olympic sports such as sprinting, gymnastics and diving.
Jamie Hewlett said: "The idea is that you tell the entire story of Journey To The West in a two-minute opening sequence, which is basically them on their way to the Olympic stadium, the Birds' Nest stadium."
The campaign will be used to promote BBC Sport's Olympics coverage, and will also be included in the channel's titles, trails, programme graphics and set designs. The full two-minute version will be edited into a range of shorter versions, too. The campaign targets younger viewers, and is being transmitted virally through Bebo, Facebook and other social networking channels, as well as via mobile.
Jonathan Bramley, BBC Sport Executive Producer, said: "This has been a really exciting collaboration - to work with such renowned artists as Jamie and Damon is a real plus for BBC Sport. Their treatment of the trail and titles will kick start our Olympic coverage in a really different, energetic way."
Tim Davie, the BBC's director of Marketing, Campaigns and Communication, said: "It is inspiring to team up with such talented people as Jamie and Damon, and it reflects our commitment to truly gound-breaking creative work. I think audiences are going to see a fantastic campaign."
Red Bee Media produced the trails and title sequence with Zombie Flesheaters (Hewlett's studio) and Passion Pictures.
The two-minute film can be viewed here, together with a range of other Monkey-related information and activities.