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Blue Portugal Flags

Last modified: 2015-11-11 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: bbdo | blue atlantic | atlantico azul | sphere | quina | towers(7) |
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Editor's Introduction

At the beginning 2006 Jorge Candeias reported about a campaign of BBDO agency in order to propose a blue Portugal national flag, which however never came to being. Later on in 2009 António Martins-Tuválkin reported for the first time the existence of a similar flag. We have no information, whether the latter was inspired by the former.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 16 Dec 2014

BBDO Study about possible Proposal of a blue Portugal Flag

[BBDO blue flag proposal (Portugal)] 2:3 image by Jorge Candeias,21 Jan 2006

Last year there was some mild stirr in Portugal about a "proposal" made by an advertizing company called BBDO to change the national flag. Apparently they were commissioned by the government to study new ways to promote the country abroad and came up not only with a new slogan ("Europe's west coast") and a set of proposed posters and other propaganda materials, but also with what apparently passes for an "analysis" of our national symbols in advertizing circles and a proposal to change the flag to something more "contemporary", "western" and "European".
The vex "analysis", which was broadly distributed as a PDF in email throughout the year, and made it to a couple of magazines in late summer. Quite efficient in terms of promoting the name and presence of BBDO itself.
It overviewed the various flags the country had throughout its history (with images suspiciously similar to those António Martins-Tuválkin made and pretty much spanked the current flag under the main argument that its colours are the same as those of African countries, which leads, in their view, to a perception of underdevelopment in the eyes of international audiences.
This, of course, is the kind of superficial
one would expect from marketeers. It's totally ignorant in terms of history, lacking the understanding not only that the Portuguese flag predated the adoption of red, green and yellow as pan-african colours by a few decades, but also of all the events that led to its choice in 1910. It's also ignorant in terms of colours, since it assumes that the colours of the Portuguese flag are red, yellow and green while they are not: the base colours are green and red, and the full set of colours present in the flag is green, red, yellow, white, blue and black.
They also criticize the complexity of the armiliary sphere, which is a recurrent argument, understandable if we take into account that most people know nothing about the role of a supporter in heraldry and the kind and style of drawings that are used as supporters in western-style heraldical symbols, some of which appear in national flags and we just have to look across the border to see an example.
The solution, according to them? It's a blue flag with a yellow, stylized, armilliary sphere in the centre, charged with the Portuguese shield.
That a flag like this becomes identical to the EU flag whenever there's no or little wind and/or some distance between the flag and the observer never crossed their minds, that it's very similar to a whole bunch of plain blue flags that includes not only a full set of american states but also lots of international organizations and maritime companies, former and present, they don't know or don't care, that it's quite similar to three current African flags (Somalia, Congo and to some extent Cape Verde), not to mention other countries such as several Pacific nations, all quite below us in development levels, they don't mind. They just think that their proposal is the solution for all image problems Portugal has abroad. Oh well... advertisers...
Jorge Candeias,21 Jan 2006

Well, I did say something a while back about flags designed by advertising agencies. While my criteria were aesthetic (their designs looked like posters, not flags), you have added the valid point that advertising agencies know nothing about history. (Or much else, for that matter; their staffs are not known for being well-educated..... They are certainly not hired on that basis.)
Albert Kirsch,21 Jan 2006

With all the valid arguments orge provides I much agree, but still I kind of like what they did to the sphere... Heraldically speaking (and the sphere is still heraldic part of the PT flag) there is no change in the charge, only in its artistic representation - vexillologically this is much more "sensible" way to represent it. If Portugal would decide to change just the sphere according to this proposal I do not think that many would notice and care much and that no real change of the flag would be recorded by anyone but a bunch of vexillologists whom nobody listens to anyway.
Željko Heimer,22 Jan 2006

[BBDO arms proposal (Portugal)] 2:3 image by Jorge Candeias,21 Jan 2006

Well, I don't. I agree in principle that the heraldical charge remains more or less the same (although I look at their rendition and I don't see a sphere anymore), but the problem is that it's very unwise, aestethically speaking, to mix in the same design highly stylized elements and highly detailed ones, such as all the charges in the Portuguese shield, especially the castles. It just looks bad.
Jorge Candeias,22 Jan 2006

You have a point here, too, I must admit.
Željko Heimer,22 Jan 2006

It was commissioned by ICEP, a government agency which deals with the "image" of Portugal abroad, especially for tourism and foreign investment. This pdf presentation includes also non-vex. parts of the campaign. Still available online here (at two other former locations now unavailable; but saved and archived by many of us imeanwhile). Speaking of advertisement, here's a link to "someone's" blog post about this issue: here (in Portuguese).
António Martins-Tuválkin,22 Jan 2006

Blue Atlantic (Atlântico Azul)

[Blue Atlantic (Portugal)] 2:3 image by António Martins-Tuválkin, modified by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 4 Dec 2014

One more strange Portuguese flag like the Portuguese presidential flag , but (very) dark blue instead of green. Hoisted along with other at the western wing of the Navy Museum in Lisbon. I have no idea of its meaning.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 29 June 2009

In front of the new wing of Portugal's Naval Museum in Belem I spotted a blue flag with coat of arms of Portugal on an armillary sphere in the centre (and if anybody doesn't believe me, I can provide a photo). Asking, what the meaning of that flag was a few days later in the rooms of the flagmaker "Casa das Bandeiras" in the Baixa of Lisboa, I was told that there is no blue flag of Portugal. Does anybody know its meaning?
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 17 Dec 2013

This is the flag of Atlântico Azul, a Portuguese maritime heritage blog and event organizer. For further information click here!
Miles Li, 19 Dec 2013

According to own photo the blue shade outside the sphere is royal blue, inside there is a lighter shade.
Source: own photo shot on 8 Oct 2013 in Belém
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 4 Dec 2014