Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s XFL revival, scheduled to begin in 2023 after the former wrestler bought the league from a bankrupt Vince McMahon for $15 million following an inaugural season cut short by COVID, introduced a new visual brand identity earlier this week.
One little issue — the new identity that “represents a new era for the forward-thinking league, signaling one of inclusivity, innovation, and co-creation as it works to build tomorrow’s league” is ironically neither innovative nor forward-thinking. In fact, it is a complete rip-off of the branding of Togethxr, a media company founded by multiple high-profile female Olympians including USWNT star Alex Morgan and WNBA and Olympic basketball player Sue Bird to elevate women’s voices in sport.
The uncanny resemblance between the logos was quickly pointed out by Bird’s fiancée, Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe, who tweeted “Welp. This is awkward. Only thing @TheRock and @XFL2023 are gonna be cookin up is a response to the Cease and Desist and an ENTIRE new brand ID.”
For those unfamiliar with the Rock’s pre-Hollywood days, she’s referencing Johnson’s WWE catchphrase, “Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?”
The official Togethxr account tweeted that they had issued legal action, backing up Rapinoe’s statement, as the XFL’s new “brand identity” not only mimics the logo of Togethxr, but also prominently features the word “together.”
You can check for yourself, but it looks like a classic case of copying off the smart kids in class and doing a poor job of passing it off as your own original work.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess?” Morgan wrote on Twitter. “Shout out to my team at @togethxr for creating a bad ass brand name, logo, and background story that resonates for so many.”
So many, indeed! Across not only women’s sports, but all the way over to the “league of the future.” How often do you see conflict that crosses over soccer, football, WWE, and basketball all in one? A rare breed!
Still a year out from its first game, the Rock’s XFL revival is still in relatively early stages, with teams and cities not yet announced. However, they did announce a partnership with the NFL in February to experiment with rule changes and equipment innovation — as the new XFL president put it, it will be a sort of “Petri dish” for the NFL. Hopefully that innovation looks a little more, well, innovative than this week did.