The Nation Branding Opportunities Provided by a Sport Mega-event: South Africa and the 2010 FIFA World Cup
Over the past decade there has been a growing awareness of the significant impact that hosting sport mega-events can have on a nation׳s brand. This paper discusses the context of nation branding and the role of sport mega-events in generating a nation branding legacy. A nation brand is not owned or controlled by a single organisation, but rather jointly developed and delivered by a network of public and private sector organisations. The examination of both event and brand stakeholder perceptions and experiences post the event was therefore identified as an important research area. The case of South Africa and the 2010 FIFA World Cup was selected as improving the brand image was clearly stated as an aim for the host nation. The paper is based on a qualitative study that featured in-depth interviews conducted with definitive stakeholders from the public and private sectors (n=8), within two of the major host cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town that took place two years post the event. The paper details the perceptions, experiences and reflections of these stakeholders relating to the branding opportunities and the legacy from the event and the degree to which these were leveraged. The paper contends that there are significant branding opportunities for nations beyond merely publicity, brand awareness and short-term perception changes. Greater knowledge and understanding of a brand can be developed through the experiences and engagement of visitors, citizens and members of the international business community, leading to the establishment of a more authentic brand image. Furthermore, there is also the opportunity to use these new image perceptions to position the nation brand for competitive advantage in tourism as well as business and investment sectors. Two key influencing factors of the nation branding legacy were identified, namely the media (including traditional and new media) and the role of local citizens. The discourse surrounding leveraging of legacies is furthered and supported, as it is clear that the success and legacy of the mega-event are a result of strategic activities of stakeholders. A nation branding legacy is therefore a combination of the opportunities provided by the sport mega-event and the strategic intention and activities of stakeholders.