Leveraging Nation Branding Opportunities Through Sport Mega-Events
Purpose– This paper aims to indicate a shift in focus from legacy to the leveraging of event impacts, and previous papers have indicated a growing awareness of the brand-related legacies associated with sport mega-events for a host nation. However, none have explored this in relation to the strategic activities of nation brand stakeholders. Design/methodology/approach– The case of South Africa and the 2010 FIFA World Cup was selected, as this host nation clearly stated its aim of using the sport mega-event to develop its brand. A qualitative study explored the insights of selected, definitive nation brand stakeholders and experts, elicited using in-depth, semi-structured interviews (n = 27) that took place two to three years post the event. Findings– A thematic analysis clustered the leveraging imperatives into seven key strategic focus areas, namely, the media, local citizens, stakeholder partnerships, the tourism experience, design, sustainable development and urban transformation and event hosting. Research limitations/implications– This paper is not an audit of leveraging activities nor does it assess the costs of leveraging. The focus on a specific case has allowed for an in-depth analysis, although, for greater transferability of these findings, it is recommended that further comparative studies be conducted, especially in emerging nation contexts. Practical implications– The paper identifies key strategic focus areas as well as examples of practical activities for leveraging mega-events to gain and sustain nation brand benefits. In particular, stakeholders are urged to plan and budget for leveraging before, during and especially post an event. Social implications– In light of the critique of mega-events linked to their social impacts and costs, this paper recommends leveraging focus areas, and especially the mobilisation of citizen support, that can assist the realisation of positive social outcomes. Originality/value– The paper adds to the emerging discourse of nation branding, highlighting opportunities derived through sport mega-events and assisting brand stakeholders to leverage such opportunities more effectively.