The Smiling Sun was created in 1975 in Denmark. The anti-nuclear power movement in dozens of countries adopted the logo to serve their campaigns. In 1977 the Smiling Sun was trademarked. It became the worldwide strongest brand against nuclear power. And still is.
Smiling Sun History
In April 1975 the Smiling Sun logo was designed by 21-year-old activist Anne Lund in dialog with fellow activists, within the OOA (Organisationen til Oplysning om Atomkraft = Organisation for Information on Nuclear Power). The Logo features a smiling sun surrounded by the wording NUCLEAR POWER? NO THANKS - or the similar message in any other language - in yellow, red and black. The intention behind the design was, as Anne Lund put it, to create a friendly and open-minded logo, expressing a polite but firm “no thanks” in response to the question raised. It is a logo calling for communication by dialogue.
The first public appearance of the Smiling Sun badge was during the 1st of May festival 1975 in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest town. The logo immediately turned out to become extraordinarily popular. Anti-nuclear groups from other countries soon asked for Smiling Suns, displaying the message in their respective languages.
Within a few years the logo was translated from Danish into some 40 other national and regional languages and it rapidly became the most common worldwide symbol within the anti-nuclear power movement. It still is. The Chernobyl nuclear melt down in 1986 caused a massive set back for the nuclear industry worldwide. However, along with the growing issue of climate change, the nuclear industry promoted a comeback for nuclear power. This caused the antinuclear campaign to gain momentum as well. From 2007 new language versions of the Smiling Sun were requested. The 2011 Fukushima catastrophe in Japan gave a remarkable push for additional language versions of the Smiling Sun. The number of language variations has now passed 60.
From 1976 onwards the OOA organized large print runs comprising various language versions, thus keeping production and wholesale prices for campaign groups very low. This way the Smiling Sun became an important and decentralized fundraising tool, when sold as badges, stickers, T-shirts, etc. Distribution and production agreements were made with campaign groups in most Western European Countries and in the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan as well. In 1978 revenues from sales of the Smiling Sun were used to initiate, and for about 10 years partly to finance the work of WISE (World Information Service on Energy), based in Amsterdam, with relays in many countries.
During the period 1975-1985 the OOA has produced some 36 million Smiling Sun items for sale, not to mention the incalculable numbers of Smiling Suns that have appeared on leaflets and posters, in magazines, newspapers, media programmes, websites, etc. From 1978 some foreign groups began producing Smiling Suns on their own. The OOA did not manage to keep track on such independent Smiling Sun activities and has accordingly no record on volume of such production.
In 1977 the OOA registered the logo as a trademark in Denmark and a number of other countries. By December 2004 the Logo was registered as a Trademark within the countries of the European Community. The trademark protection serves the purpose of securing the integrity and independence of the logo by reserving its use and profit from sales to the anti-nuclear power movement worldwide and enabling action to be taken against abuse and alteration of the logo by commercial interests, as well as against counter use by pro-nuclear power campaigns and against political parties attempting to take possession of the Smiling Sun. Yet, the logo has been copied and has inspired an endless number of various messages, which are tolerated as freedom of expression
A Basque group of mountaineers placed 1980 a flag with a Basque version of the Smiling Sun on top of Mt. Everest. In Aarhus activists in 1983 painted an 8 metres mural of the Smiling Sun, now recognised as cultural heritage, right around the corner from the flat where the Smiling Sun was first drawn in 1975.
The Danish National Museum at Copenhagen in 2003 included the Smiling Sun in the collections of the museum. An original drawing of the Smiling Sun Logo and a collection of badges and other products are now on display at the museum. The municipal museum at Aarhus has presented the Smiling sun in several publications and has included a variety of Smiling Suns in their permanent exhibition. Major museums and institutes in Berlin, Amsterdam and London have as well included the Smiling Suns to their collections.
Upon request from a number of NGOs in Germany, Holland and Austria the OOA Fonden in 2013 decided to authorize a green version of the smiling sun promoting renewable energy. This version is available only in a rather limited number of languages.
The Smiling Sun Archive (SSA) contains a substantial documentation related to the global use of the Smiling Sun logo 1975-2000 by the OOA and 2000-2021 by OOA Fonden. The archive will continue to collect documentation related to the use of the logo from 2021 onwards. It is organized as a section of the OOA Archive and can be approached by e-mail: email@example.com