Black or white turn it on, face the new religion
Everybody’s sitting ’round watching television.

London’s burning. But this time we’re following it online, on Twitter, on Facebook, on blogs, on whatever we can get our clicks on.

We’ve seen some incredible images of infernos (including a obliterated Sony warehouse), but it’s also been an incredible marketing nightmare for a proud city that will host the Olympic ames in under 12 months. And the anger has spread across the country with spot fires of violence popping up from Bristol to Manchester, and almost all points in between, local looting, burning and pillaging has made the headlines, but the flooding of Police on to the streets seems to be working and restoring some order.

Chis Barraclough of Marketing magazine UK noticed that the riot opportunists aren’t pouncing on food stocks, like the life-saving looting we see in the wake of natural disasters, but are going after the big brands.

“The riots are the inevitable result of a society that puts material possession above moral values,” Barraclough writes. “You could argue that amongst many, a smartphone is valued above an education. A pair of new trainers above getting a job. Remember, the rioters weren’t looting for food, they were looting for brands. Many were children.”

What emerges is a portrait of a desperate and angry society, but the Prime Minister has assured the world that the violence is confined to “pockets” of society, and that most people want to do good and obey the law.

And there have been some touching moments of community togetherness, that England would probably rather think sums up their country than the discontent. Songs have popped up on YouTube asking English people to unite and end the riots, civilians you wouldn’t expect to have stood up and faced the looters head on, and thousands of English youths have pledged to clean up their cities. Even, Ashraf Rossli, who was mugged while slumped over with a broken jaw and bleeding heavily, stood by his adopted country.

“Britain is great,” he said while recovering from his ordeal. “Before I came here I was very eager and I haven’t got any ill-feelings about what happened.”

But even with the solidarity, surely nothing about these riots is good for England. With the Olympics due to kick off in July next year, the clean up will have to be swift and the social discontent will have to be addressed. Even an Olympic ambassador who has met with London mayor Boris Johnston and Olympics chief Sebastian Coe, 18-year-old Chelsea Ives, said a day of rioting and attacking shop fronts was the “best day ever”. She appeared in court earlier this week.

As the violence calms down, and the court cases against the rioters proceed, most of the stolen loot will still remain stolen or destroyed, leading brands to believe it could end up on eBay or Gumtree. Both sites have committed to investigating any potential stolen goods posted for sale.

A spokesperson for eBay said they so far hadn’t noticed any suspicious listings but will keep a close eye.

‘We will cooperate fully with the investigating authorities to identify and remove any listings which are linked to criminal activity,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Gumtree also encouraged users who are suspicious of listing to report it and it would be investigated.

What do you think? What do the riots mean for London as a tourist destination? Will it turn off people from attending the Olympics? Will the country be able to turn the social discontent around rapidly? Drop a comment below.

BY Brendan Lawley ON 12 August 2011