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526 Journal of Sport Management, 2008, 22, 526-549 © 2008 Human Kinetics, Inc. Parent and Séguin are in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5 Canada. Toward a Model of Brand Creation for International Large-Scale Sporting Events: The Impact of Leadership, Context, and Nature of the Event Milena M. Parent and Benoit Séguin University of Ottawa The purpose of this study was to develop a model of brand creation for one-off large-scale sporting events. A case study of the 2005 Montreal FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) World Championships highlighted the importance of the leadership group (which must include individuals with political/networking, business/management, and sport/event skills), the context, and the nature of the event for creating the event’s brand. The importance of each aspect is suggested to vary depending on the situation. For example, the lack of an initial event brand will result in the leadership group having the greatest impact on the event’s brand creation process. Findings also highlighted differing communication paths for internal and external stakeholders. Thus, this study contributes to the literature by focusing on brand creation and its related factors instead of the management and outcomes of a brand. The concept of brand and its importance to marketing has been widely studied in the marketing industry (cf. Aaker, 1991, 1996; Aaker, 1997; de Chernatony, 1999, 2001; de Chernatony & Harris, 2000; Harris & de Chernatony, 2001; Kapferer, 2001; Keller, 2003a, 2003b). Although a brand can be viewed as a name or symbol that identifies and differentiates products from one another (Aaker, 1991), it is also described as a promise to deliver a specific set of features, benefits, services, or experiences to consumers on a consistent basis (Kotler, Armstrong, & Cunningham, 2005). It is suggested that a strong brand provides a company with a “point of dif- ference” (Kapferer, 2001; Keller, 2003a), which in turn can provide a competitive advantage (Aaker, 1991). Moreover, successful brands are able to quickly establish relationships (emotional and personal) with the customer. When this relationship is nurtured over time, loyalty toward the brand is generated (de Chernatony, 2001) and becomes an important asset for a company. Brand loyalty and other assets such as brand awareness, perceived quality, and brand associations constitute the essence of brand equity (Aaker, 1991). Event Brand Creation Model 527 Likewise, sport consumers develop strong emotional attachments to sports teams, clubs, or events, which can build trust and loyalty toward a strong sport brand (Richelieu, 2004). This loyalty can be leveraged to generate additional revenues through the sale of a variety of goods (e.g., merchandise) and services (e.g., spon- sorships) within and beyond the sport arena (Gustafson, 2001). Given that hosting international sporting events requires considerable investments from private and public organizations (Whitson & Macintosh, 1993, 1996) in a short period of time, an event with a high level of brand equity can be of great value to organizers who seek resources (financial, material, and human) from a variety of stakeholders. By definition, an organizing committee’s stakeholders are all the individuals, groups, or organizations who impact or are affected by the organizing committee’s actions (cf. Freeman, 1984), notably the organizing committee’s volunteer and paid staff, the governments, the community (e.g., residents and sponsors or businesses), the media, the various sports organizations, and the delegations (Parent, 2005). In recent years, the concept of brand has become increasingly important for professional sports franchises (e.g., Manchester United, New York Yankees), as well as for major sporting events such as the Olympic Games. While the concept of brand has been studied in the team sport environment (e.g., Gladden & Funk, 2002; Gladden, Irwin, & Sutton, 2001; Gladden & Milne, 1999; Gladden, Milne, & Sutton, 1998; Gladden & Wolfe, 2001; Richelieu, 2004), few studies have exam- ined the concept within the context of a sporting event, the organizing committee of which is, by nature, a temporary organization. Moreover, while some major sporting events like the Olympic Games or the Mundial (World Cup of Soccer) arguably have a brand, this might not be the case for second-tier events like specific world championships, which must create and manage a brand in a short period of time (e.g., 4 years). Parent and Foreman (2007) examined the process of organizational identity construction (OIC) within organizing committees of major sporting events. Here, identity refers to all central, enduring, and distinct elements defining and relating to who the organizing committee is as an organization and why it exists (cf. Albert & Whetten, 1985)—in contrast to images, which refer to external stakeholders’ impressions of the organizing committee (cf. Gioia, Schultz, & Corley, 2000). Parent and Foreman suggested that organizing committees draw on three types of identity referents: the nature of the event, the nature of the context, and the key organizing committee individuals. If identity is considered to be a core aspect of brand creation (Keller, 2003b; Upshaw, 1995)—in essence the intended brand, in contrast to images which can be described as the perceived brand—then we posit that the three identity referents could become important for brand creation of second-tier events. Thus, our purpose is to build a model of brand creation for one-off large-scale sporting events and thereby shed light on some of the ways in which organizing committee members might build their brand more effectively and efficiently. This article therefore fills a gap in the literature by providing key components for creating an event’s brand, as well as their interrelationships. Moreover, this article examines the beginning of a brand in a new context, an event and its organizing committee, who are in existence for only a short period of time, and a context wherein the brand must be created quickly to reap the benefits of having a brand (e.g., gaining the necessary resources). 528 Parent and Séguin The article is structured as follows. First, an overview of the theoretical frame- work is provided. Next, a description of the methods (setting, data collection, and data analysis) is offered. The results are then presented and discussed. Concluding remarks and future directions end the article. Theoretical Framework To develop a brand creation model, key theoretical concepts must first be described. The following theoretical framework provides an overview of the research on brands and on the OIC model developed by Parent and Foreman (2007). Brand Research Branding’s emergence as a management priority has led to an increase in brand and consumer research (Aaker, 1991, 1996; de Chernatony, 1999, 2001; Keller, 1993, 2003a, 2003b). Branding is known as the process of providing products and services with the advantages that accrue to building a strong brand (Keller, 2003b). According to Aaker (1991), strong brands are built by managing brand equity— i.e., the brand’s main assets including brand awareness, brand loyalty, perceived quality, and brand associations or images. Thus, brand equity is achieved “when the consumer is familiar with the brand, and holds favorable, strong, and unique brand associations in memory” (Keller, 1993, p. 2). In this way, a brand becomes a differentiating asset for a company (Kapferer, 2001; Keller, 1993). Through its brand, a firm creates and manages customers’ expectations (Aaker, 1991) and can quickly establish strong emotional and personal relationships with the customer. Those relationships can potentially lead to brand loyalty (Bedbury & Fenichell, 2002; de Chernatony, 2001). For this reason, companies that own strong brands tend to focus consumers’ attention on brand associations or images (Aaker, 1996; Rijkenberg, 2002). High levels of brand awareness and positive brand images increase the probability of brand choice, as well as generate higher consumer loyalty (Keller, 1993). While relatively new to sports, brand-related concepts have increased in impor – tance, especially in relation to professional team sports (e.g., Manchester United, New York Yankees, and Toronto Maple Leafs). This has prompted a number of academics to study brand-related concepts in sport (e.g., Couvelaere & Richelieu, 2005; Gladden & Funk, 2002; Gladden & Milne, 1999; Gladden et al., 1998; Pons & Richelieu, 2004; Richelieu, 2004). Gladden’s extensive work on brand equity in relation to intercollegiate athletics (e.g., Gladden et al., 1998; Gladden & Wolfe, 2001) and professional teams (e.g., Gladden & Funk, 2002; Gladden et al., 2001; Gladden & Milne, 1999; Gladden et al., 1998) has provided a framework for studying a number of brand-related concepts (e.g., image, loyalty, associations) in the context of team sports. The conceptual framework of team sport brand equity (Gladden et al., 1998) suggests that before reaching brand equity, three antecedent conditions should be considered: the team (success and head coach), the organiza- tion (tradition, conference/division, and logo), and the market (media coverage and geographic location). These three conditions lead to brand equity with six forms of marketplace consequences: national media exposure, merchandise sales, individual donations, corporate support, atmosphere, and ticket sales. Event Brand Creation Model 529 While image has traditionally held a central place in the brand building process (de Chernatony, 1999), recent studies have emphasized the importance of identity (Kapferer, 1997). Recent work by Richelieu (2004) suggested that defining the identity of the sports team or organization is the first step in building brand equity. This is followed by positioning the sports team or organization in the market and developing a brand strategy. Identity and positioning represent the foundations of a brand strategy (Gladden et al., 1998). Richelieu (2004) suggested that it is only with a clear identity and strong positioning that marketing actions become relevant for leveraging the brand of a sport team or organization. The models suggested by Gladden et al. (1998), Richelieu (2004), and others such as Aaker’s (1991) brand equity and Keller’s (2003b) customer-based brand equity model were developed for and apply mainly to enduring organizations— where the goal is to build and sustain long-term brand equity. However, we argue that a brand model must be developed for one-off events and their organizing committees. Given their short predetermined lifecycle, organizing committees also need the benefits of a brand as much as any other organization. While it may be advantageous for international sport federations (IFs), who ultimately own these events, to create long term brand equity (e.g., International Olympic Committee or IOC, Fédération Internationale de Football Association or FIFA), the reality is that most of them (e.g., Fédération Internationale de Natation or FINA, International Association of Athletics Federations or IAAF) do not have much equity. It becomes, to a large extent, the responsibility of organizing committees to create brands for their event in a very short time. Examining the preceding literature more closely, it becomes evident that much is known in terms of the process, management, and outcomes of a brand. In other words, we know what makes up brand equity, how to manage it, and what its benefits are. However, the core building blocks or components of a brand, specifically in one-off large-scale sporting events, have yet to be identified in the literature. Thus, questions such as what are the components that make up the vision of a brand—argued by de Chernatony (2001) to be the beginning of the process of building brand equity—have remained unanswered. In addition, if identity is the first step toward creating brand equity (Richelieu, 2004), and is in fact the essence of a brand (Keller, 2003b), then what constitutes this identity from the outset in an event? In addition, it is suggested by de Chernatony (1999) that managers and staff make a brand unique. Because managers face the challenge of defining the brand’s values, and given the short-term nature of an event, what is the importance of staff and volunteers in creating and communicating an identity for the brand? Parent and Foreman’s (2007) OIC model can assist in answering these questions and in developing a model of brand creation for one-off large-scale sporting events. OIC Model Parent and Foreman’s (2007) proposed OIC model for large-scale sporting events is based on Scott and Lane’s (2000) OIC framework and on stakeholder theory (cf. Clarkson, 1995; Donaldson & Preston, 1995; Freeman, 1984; Mitchell, Agle, & Wood, 1997; Putler & Wolfe, 1999; Wolfe & Putler, 2002). Parent and Foreman pushed the Scott and Lane framework further by including three referents: key individuals or actors (i.e., the individuals and organizations considered to be leaders 530 Parent and Séguin for the organizing committee), the event (i.e., the nature of the context or setting in which the event will take place), and the nature of the event itself (e.g., an Olympic Games versus a national swimming championships versus a local minor hockey tournament). Here, leaders are defined as “those who engage in leadership,” and leadership is defined as “a process whereby an individual [or group] influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (Northouse, 2007, p. 3). Organizing committee managers build images of their organizing committee—and therefore the event—based on these three referents. These images are projected to the various stakeholders directly or indirectly through the media. Stakeholders then reflect the perceptions of these images back to the organizing committee, which can make modifications if needed. The three referents, the inclusion of stakeholders in a feedback loop, and the fact that the media is singled out as a significant stakeholder in the management of organizational images and identities are important aspects to consider for our present purpose of developing a model of brand creation in one-off large-scale sporting events. Parent and Foreman’s model will therefore serve as an initial step in guiding the development of our model. Methods A case study (Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin, 2003) of the 2005 FINA World Championships was conducted to build a model of brand creation for one-off large-scale sport- ing events. FINA is the IF responsible for four aquatic sports: swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, and water polo. A case study research design was chosen because case studies have been shown to be an appropriate approach for providing in-depth knowledge of complex events as they unfold over time. Because the 2005 FINA World Championships had already taken place when the data were gathered, we were able to examine the organizing committee of the event from its incep- tion to its end. Furthermore, case studies are appropriate when questions relate to events over which the researchers have little or no control, and they are preferable when researchers are seeking to develop new theoretical models (Eisenhardt, 1989; Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Yin, 2003). The general methodology follows that of Parent (2005) and is described below after an overview of the setting and the organizing committee’s branding efforts of the event. Setting In 2001, FINA chose Montreal, Canada to showcase its world championships. The Aquatic Federation of Canada (AFC) is the organization representing FINA in Canada. The AFC Board of Directors is made up of one representative from each of the following national sport organizations: Swimming Canada, Synchro Canada, Water Polo Canada, and Diving Canada. For the city, the region, and the entire province, MONTREAL 2005 was the largest gathering of young athletes since the 1976 Olympic Games, with more than 2,000 athletes from 160 countries in the disciplines of swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, and open water swimming, along with 1,000 team officials and 300 competition officials. Also taking part were 2,500 volunteers, 160,000 spectators, more than 1 billion television viewers worldwide, and a media contingent of over 1,300 journalists. Six major stakeholder groups were involved, including the organizing committee’s Event Brand Creation Model 531 employees and volunteers, the sport organizations (FINA, FINA’s marketing agency, and the AFC), the delegations (athletes and support staff), the three levels of govern- ment (municipal, provincial, and federal), the community (residents, businesses, schools, community groups), and the media. The direct economic spin-offs are estimated at several tens of millions of dollars. MONTREAL 2005 was presented on five competition sites on Montreal’s Ste-Hélène and Notre-Dame islands from July 16 to July 31, 2005 (see www.geocities.com/mondiauxaquatiques2005/ for more information). Formed in 2001, the organizing committee was led by a volunteer board of directors composed of stakeholder representatives (e.g., governments, AFC, community members). The board of directors determined the general direction of MONTREAL 2005 (i.e., vision, mission, policies, and business plan). Following a number of problems, including leadership and financial (specifically sponsor – ship) problems, FINA decided to withdraw the Championships from Montreal on January 19, 2005. The existing organizing committee was dissolved and most paid staff and volunteers left. On February 10, 2005, FINA handed the event back to Montreal thanks to the efforts of the Mayor of Montreal and other key individuals. The Mayor and these other key individuals created a new organizing committee under new leadership and with new paid staff and volunteers. The basic timeline and leadership is described in Table 1 (see Parent & Séguin, 2007). As can be seen, there were many leadership changes, with individuals coming from varied backgrounds. Branding the Event The official brand of MONTREAL 2005 was unveiled in March 2004, three years after the organizing committee’s creation. The brand and its various elements were to be used as the organizing committee’s main communication tools to promote Table 1 Key Timeline and Leadership for Montreal 2005 Year Leadership GroupComposition of Leadership Group Leadership BackgroundLeadership Group Skill Set 1999–2001 Bid for the event 2001–2002 1President 1 Executive Director 1 Cirque du Soleil Chief Operating Officer Event ManagerPolitical (moderate) Business (high) Sport (high) 2002–January 2005 2 President 2 Executive Director 2 Federal Civil Servant Federal Civil ServantPolitical (high—federal) Business (low) Sport (low) January–Feb- ruary 2005 Leadership change when event is lost and regained February– July 2005 3 Copresident 3a Copresident 3b Executive Director 3 Mayor of Montreal Formula 1 Director Television PresidentPolitical (high) Business (high) Sport (high) 532 Parent and Séguin the event nationally and internationally. These tools included the logo, a mascot, a theme song, and two high profile athletes as the official spokespersons for the event. While the logo was the essential element in branding the event, each symbol was to create its own set of associations with the public (MONTREAL 2005, 2005).The MONTREAL 2005 visuals were derived from the logo. Illustrations using millions of drops of water to represent the different aquatic disciplines were developed to symbolize athletes. Described as artsy and modern, the illustrations were applied in every mass media and site pageantry (MONTREAL 2005, 2005). The positioning of the event was “A Unique event, a first in North America” (MONTREAL 2005, 2005, p. 52, emphasis in original). The advertising theme was “Vivez l’eau et l’émotion/Feel the Wave of Emotion” (MONTREAL 2005, 2005, p. 52, emphasis in original). The services of an advertising agency were secured on April 23, 2005 (MONTREAL 2005, 2005). The main purpose of the agency was to build and develop the advertising around the event. The brand creation timeline is illustrated in Figure 1. Sample and Data Collection To build the case study, multiple sources of information were used (archival mate- rial and interviews) from all six stakeholder groups of the organizing committee. Figure 1 — Brand building timeline for MONTREAL 2005. Event Brand Creation Model 533 More precisely, interviews were conducted with and archival material was obtained from the organizing committee and bid team members, the sport organizations, the governments, the media, the delegations, and sponsors (part of the community stakeholder group; Yin, 2003). A combination sampling strategy (purposive— certain documents and stakeholder representatives were predetermined as being necessary to this research—and snowball techniques) was used to build the case study (Bauer & Gaskell, 2000; Miles & Huberman, 1994). Data collection came to a close once we reached saturation, that is, when no additional new information could be obtained (Bauer & Gaskell, 2000). The archival material consisted of: organizing committee internal documents (e.g., meeting minutes, memos, letters, final reports), stakeholder documents (e.g., annual reports, newspaper articles), and commemorative material (e.g., commemo- rative books). Over 75 documents totaling more than 500 pages were analyzed. In turn, 25 semistructured interviews were conducted (12 by phone and 13 in person) with representatives of all six stakeholder groups to understand the perspective of all stakeholders involved with the event. Interviews lasted on average 75 min. A full interview guide is provided in the appendix. Interview transcripts were returned to the interviewees for verification/validation and to seek clarification on certain points (e.g., the branding of the organizing committee and event; Bauer & Gaskell, 2000; Denscombe, 1998; Yin, 2003). Of course, field notes were taken throughout the data collection phase and included in the data analysis (cf. Miles & Huberman, 1994; Parent, 2005; Yin, 2003). All data collected were converted, if necessary, into electronic format for subsequent analysis. Interviews were professionally transcribed (verbatim) before analysis. Data Analysis The analysis was a combination of inductive content analysis and pattern match- ing to iterate and integrate between theory development and theory testing (Miles & Huberman, 1994; Yin, 2003). More precisely, the analysis was done with the help of the data analysis software ATLAS.ti 5.0. Passages relating to the brand, the key individuals of the organizing committee, the nature of the context, and the nature of the event were highlighted (coded) and then extracted for further analysis. Both authors independently analyzed the extracted passages for patterns (similarities, recurring aspects) and any other emerging findings. Tables were used to assist in finding patterns by grouping similar data together. After analyzing the passages, the authors discussed their individual findings, and they were found to be in agreement on the key components of brand creation and on the components’ interrelationships. Results and Discussion An analysis of the data showed that Parent and Foreman’s (2007) three referents were supported as components of identity and brand creation, as was the com- munication path of the images to stakeholders directly or indirectly through the media. However, the data goes further by distinguishing the relative importance of each referent on brand creation, as well as distinguishing between internal and external stakeholder communication paths. The following details and discusses 534 Parent and Séguin these findings (i.e., the three factors of referents and the communication path) to develop a model of brand creation in events. The Leadership Group Factor For MONTREAL 2005, the most important aspect for brand creation was the leadership (key individuals and actors). As Figure 1 highlights, the brand was created 3 years after the organizing committee was formed but was only activated (communicated) 3 months before the opening ceremonies. Thus, the only refer- ence point available for over 3½ years was the leadership group. Therefore, as the following interviewee stated, the first leader or leadership group activity should be to create a vision to begin building the brand: Well, I think it is right to say that [the leaders] have a huge impact. Someone has to come with a vision, first of all . . . when someone comes up with the vision and . . . everyone gets behind it, it’s real easy. But, it is usually the person who leads the charge that gets people to express interest in it. Now, it almost sounds too easy, but it seems to me that leadership’s going to have a huge impact on that. (Sport Organization Representative) Montreal won the right to host the 2005 Championships partly on its vision of selling the product (the event) as a “show” (Parent & Séguin, 2006, 2007) thanks to the help of the bid president who was also the Chief Operating Officer of the Cirque du Soleil—a leading and highly respected circus/entertainment organization in Canada, internationally, and especially in Montreal: In retrospect because the profile, and specifically my profile, encouraged FINA to believe that we could help perhaps the marketing of the championships but specifically changing the image of the aquatic sport . . . bringing the aquatics sports a more professional, artistic . . . perspective. So that was what FINA was looking for from us. (Organizing Committee First President and Cirque du Soleil Chief Operating Officer) When the organizing committee was formed, the bid president became the organizing committee president to help build the brand, and an executive director with sport event experience was hired (Leadership Group 1). However, in less than a year, both members of the first leadership group resigned and were replaced by two individuals with strong ties to certain federal politicians, not local, sport, or event ties (Leadership Group 2). This leadership change resulted in a change of direction and no brand solidification: It “came way too late . . . there was a block inside the committee, [it] was being held up for political reasons” (Organizing Committee First President). No one knew what the new leaders had in mind for the event. “Athlete: No, I wasn’t really aware of what was going on. Interviewer: You didn’t have a particular image, nothing comes to mind? Athlete: No.” (Montreal- Based Athlete and Official Spokesperson) When asked to describe the Leadership Group 2, typical responses included the following: “The environment created by [the Second Executive Director] showed little trust between stakeholders” (Government Representative) and “He wanted to control everything . . . control communications, control marketing, control ticket Event Brand Creation Model 535 sales, control construction, control the host broadcaster” (Media Representative). These descriptions were also used as event images (i.e., brand associations) before January 2005: “I would say disorganized, and a lack of communication, disinformation. Yes, that’s probably it, disinformation. A communication problem. I would even say vision, for example” (Delegation Representative) and “despotism, excessive control, lack of confidence, difficult communication” (Government Representative). Table 2 presents the images (perceived brand by the various interviewees) before losing the event and after the regaining of the event. Temporary organizations, such as MONTREAL 2005, usually rely on very few employees during the first few years of the organizing committee’s life. Most decisions (including ones related to brand vision and identity) therefore rest among a selected few. Since vision is at the center of brand identity (Harris & de Cher – natony, 2001) and, as such, the start of the brand creation process (e.g., Collins & Porras, 1996), having the right kind of leader(s) (whether staff or volunteer) in place is essential: “I think your leader has to live the brand or be the brand. . . . And if you can communicate that, then unless somebody has another agenda in the media or elsewhere, that’s what [the brand] becomes” (Organizing Committee Board Member). It was only after the event was lost and the leadership changed again (Leadership Group 3) that the (new) organizing committee clearly determined what it wanted the brand to be and could get the necessary resources to prepare and host the event. More precisely, the third leadership team was able to quickly build the brand thanks in part to their individual, personal brands: a high-profile and politically strong brand aspect stemming from the mayor, a technically-strong sport brand stemming from the promoter of the Montreal Formula 1 race, and a Table 2 Images of the Event as Perceived by Stakeholders and Related Leadership Referents Images Before Losing the Event Skill Set Referents Images After Regaining the Event Skill Set Referents Gray hair Challenge Lack of communication IncompetencePolitical/networking Business/management Sport/event Exciting/stimulating WOW Political/networking Business/management Too much hassle Run for your life Black hole Unorganized Political/networking Business/management Sport/event Teamwork/collaboration Volunteers Political/networking Business/management Sport/event Exploitation Despotism Business/management Leadership Communication Political/networking Business/management Sport/event Shame Humiliation Business/management Execution Focus Success/winners Political/networking Business/management Sport/event Nothing Indifference Business/management Competence Credibility Political/networking Business/management Sport/event 536 Parent and Séguin media-savvy and connected brand stemming from the television president. As the following quotation demonstrates, the third leadership team agreed on the vision for the event:The vision was simple; it was to organize the most beautiful championships ever organized by FINA, despite having only 140 days to do it. We told our – selves “we will show them we can do it.” The vision was “look, [the public] will come out of here with their breath taken away.’ (Organizing Committee Third Executive Director) Findings highlighted three key types of skills needed by the leadership group of the event, which are not found in Parent and Foreman’s OIC framework: politi- cal/networking skills, business/management skills, and sport/event skills. Each is described below. Political/Networking Skills. Political/networking skills involved having per – sonal and professional relationships with the various stakeholders, negotiating and managing the internal and external political “wheelings and dealings,” and under – standing the needs and wants of these stakeholders, whether they were political/ government stakeholders or nongovernmental. “Networking is key” (Government Representative). “And coming from the city of Montreal, having the Mayor involved in it at a leadership role was really important for us as a city” (Sport Organization Representative). In fact, relationships evolving through (internal and external) stakeholders’ interactions with the brand has been identified as an important factor in creating brand identity: “Internal stakeholders are central to these relationships, so it is important their interactions with external stakeholders reinforce the brand’s core values” (de Chernatony & Harris, 2000, p. 269). As well, the two copresidents (Leadership Group 3) had very strong ties and relationships in the Montreal politi- cal and business circles, thus allowing the organizing committee to leverage those relationships to acquire the necessary resources and support for their endeavor. This stood in stark contrast to the second leadership group who had a limited and closed network of relationships, thus affecting the organizing committee’s ability to access resources and support, as the following quotation demonstrates: Before [January 2005], the ability to access resources and funding was more difficult than the third [leadership] group because of the mayor. The city was now onboard; it opened doors, motivated people to make it a success. Access to resources is impacted by who the leadership team is, their network, their credibility. Respect and credibility are key in accessing resources. In the second group, the leadership was not able to maximize resources while with the third group, it was a crisis situation and the combined network of the team made things happen. Access to resources for the third group was at a high level because the level of influence was at a high level. (Government Representative) Business/Management Skills. Business/management skills involved basic business management skills such as strategic planning, writing a business plan, financial skills, communication skills, and human resource management (including motivating employees and volunteers). Event Brand Creation Model 537 You need a good motivator, whether it’s a large or a small team, for the dif- ficult times. You need a rassembleur to bring people on board from all areas. You need someone people want to work for. You need a good communicator, quick on their toes. You need someone who listens well, responds well. You need someone with a range of skills (marketing, media, communications, etc.). . . . You need someone with resource management skills: HR, financial and material. . . . You also need a person who is respected and credible because s/ he is the public face. You need a good negotiator because you have conflicting interests from stakeholders to get the right solution, which is not necessarily compromise. You need a good diplomat. (Government Representative) Business/management skills also meant choosing leaders with established track records so that stakeholders would know that the leaders would deliver on their promises: “It is about the importance of credibility and the probability of success. The [second] leadership created that doubt in probability of success. Then after [Montreal regained the event], the leadership created confidence in the probability of success.” (Government Representative) Sport/Event Skills. Sport/event skills involved the technical skills needed for the sports being showcased or knowing how to run a major sporting event (event management skills). “Communication skills are really, really important from the outset but with a really good understanding of events and event management” (Organizing Committee Staff). In addition, it is important for the leaders to under – stand sport to create a vision for the event. As suggested by one of the senior staff of the organizing committee, “If you don’t understand the event, it’s hard to have a vision. If you’ve never been to an event, it’s hard to have a vision.” Finally, having sport skills results in greater event “selling” success, as described below: When you sell a product and you give the responsibility of the sale to someone who doesn’t know your product, it’s unfortunate but it’s always garbage, all the time, all the time. You need people who know the product. I’ll tell you that the few people who were successful in selling a sport event, that I’ve seen, they all had an affinity for, a knowledge of sport, and they knew that you don’t go get people the same way than when you sell a show. (Government Representative) The leadership issue has been examined in sport organizations; however, it has been limited mainly to coaches (e.g., Chelladurai & Carron, 1983), athletic directors (e.g., Branch, 1990; Reimer & Chelladurai, 1995), and, to a lesser extent, boards of directors (e.g., Inglis, 1997). There are, however, findings in the broader management field which may help frame the present findings. More precisely, within the trait-based approach to leadership—where good leaders are thought to be born, not made (cf. Stogdill, 1974)—McLennan (1967) suggested that the skills needed to depend on the nature of the organization and its size, as well as the degree of decision-making centralization. Therefore, the unique nature of large-scale sporting event organizing committees—temporary, complex, and high-velocity environments—may result in skills unique to that organizational type, thereby supporting the call for more professional sport event managers (cf. Emery, 2001). 538 Parent and Séguin Our findings do in fact support this suggestion of a unique skill set for organizing committee leaders, a skill set requiring a certain degree of professionalism, and including political/networking, business/management, and sport/event skills.A further analysis of the data (see Table 2) indicated that perceived images by stakeholders referred to one or more of the three skill sets of the leaders of the event, thus showing the importance of the skill sets and the leadership in creating a brand. Given the importance of the leaders in creating the brand, and given the need for temporary organizations to create an identity in a very short period of time (Parent & Foreman, 2007), we argue that the individuals chosen as the leader(s) will directly contribute to the creation of the event’s brand. In other words, as leaders are themselves branded in some way based on antecedents (e.g., previous jobs, past performances, credibility), their impact on the event’s brand is significant. Some authors refer to “leadership brands”—leaders who instill confidence in their ability to deliver results over and over again in different contexts (Intagliata, Smallwood, & Ulrich, 2000). Thus, having the right skills (or competencies) provides leaders with the proper tools to create a vision for the event and, when combined with desired results, leads to leadership branding. However, it is important to note that one individual or actor may not possess all of these skills. It therefore becomes necessary to form a team of individuals, a leadership group. As mentioned above, for MONTREAL 2005, the third leadership group included three key individuals: the two volunteer copresidents—copresident 1 (political and networking skills) and copresident 2 (business/management and sport/event skills)—and the top paid staff member, the executive director (business/ management and networking skills). Having a leadership group instead of a single leader can therefore be an advantage: The team approach is an advantage. You have more than one perspective. You are able to balance perspectives. It allows for greater networking. It allows for a blend of skills. You need at least one leader and one spokesperson—they can be the same person or different people—but the team leader makes the decisions. (Government Representative) The Context Factor While the choice of an appropriate leader or leadership group for the event and its brand was based on the individuals’ skills, these skills were dependent upon, or moderated by, the regional setting. More precisely, the three skill types had to be applicable in Montreal, Canada. For example, an individual may be well con- nected in Lausanne, Switzerland (FINA’s headquarters), but this network would not be beneficial to the creation of a brand in Montreal—relationships have to be Montreal-based to be effective for the leader(s) of a major event in Montreal. Such social capital (see Bourdieu, 1986) is built locally:When you hire your president or executive director, the person that you will put in place will already have an impact, from the beginning, on the brand’s positioning. So our co-president [who is known in Montreal] comes in and has a lot of notoriety. So that gives the necessary prestige. You need these people on a board of directors. . . . You need that notoriety and the mayor’s involvement. Event Brand Creation Model 539 That was necessary. And everybody [in the business community] knew our executive director. (Organizing Committee Staff) Gladden et al.’s (1998) conceptual framework of team sport brand equity points to the importance of the market within which a team operates before reach- ing brand equity. For example, the geographic location (or context) of a hockey team (e.g., Los Angeles versus Montreal) is an antecedent factor that will impact brand equity. Similarly, we suggest that the context within which the leader(s) of an event operates will be a key factor in creating a brand. The Nature of the Event Factor As for the leadership group having an impact on brand creation—albeit one mod- erated by the context of the event—the nature of the event had a direct impact on brand creation. Findings did not indicate any moderating or mediating effects on the nature of the event-brand creation relationship. In the case of the Olympic Games and the Mundial, these events have an identifiable worldwide brand upon which organizing committees of such events can build their identity (Parent & Foreman, 2007) and brand. That is not the case for most IFs’ world championships. While a world aquatics championship may be easily branded in Australia, where aquatic sports are popular, that is not the case in Canada, where aquatic sports have very little recognition or brand power: “The image of aquatics and just the mind of the average Montrealer… aside from Michael Phelps and, perhaps, Ian Thorpe, not too many Montrealers could even come up with a swimmer” (Sponsor). Had it been an Olympic Games—as is the case for Vancouver for its 2010 Winter Olympic Games—the nature of the event would have had a greater impact on the creation of the event’s brand. Comparing the IOC and FIFA with FINA, it is clear that the event’s IF (IOC-Olympic Games; FIFA-Mundial; FINA-World Aquatics Champi- onship) has a key role in defining the nature of the event, in creating a worldwide brand for the event (compare www.olympic.org, www.fifa.com, and www.fina.org for each organization’s marketing event plan, or lack thereof). As an organizing committee staff member explained, “Except for the IOC or FIFA, you don’t really have a strong brand; like FINA doesn’t have an established brand.” According to Simoes & Dibb (2001), branding plays a special role in service companies because strong brands increase customers’ trust of the invisible prod- ucts. More precisely, a sporting event is intangible, short-lived, unpredictable, and subjective in nature (Gladden et al., 1998; Mullin, Hardy, & Sutton, 2000). “For recurring events, it is easier to get money because you can create a brand, you get long-term contracts, you create a ticket base, and you create relationships” (Government Representative). In the case of a one-off event with no preestablished brand (in contrast to the Olympic Games and the Mundial), a brand must be created before having a product to show others. For sporting events, the product is being produced and consumed at the same time (Mullin et al., 2000). Since sporting events are believed to create strong emotional commitment from the fans (Mullin et al., 2000), it is suggested that building a strong brand can and should help an organizing committee capitalize on this emotional attachment (Richelieu, 2004). As a government representative noted: “For the community, you need something they can get behind, an idea or vision of what’s coming to town, so that they can relate 540 Parent and Séguin to it, associate with it.” In return, the trust and loyalty that can follow will help the organization leverage its brand equity and generate additional revenues through the sale of goods and services (Richelieu, 2004). In the case of MONTREAL 2005, this leveraging would notably include sponsorship or corporate support, government support, sport organization support, public support, ticket sales, and merchandise sales (MONTREAL 2005, 2005).Thus, findings support Parent and Foreman’s (2007) OIC referents. However, the three leadership skill sets found in this study extend Parent and Foreman’s OIC referents further. This study therefore contributes to the literature by transferring the OIC referents to the brand literature and by adding political/networking, busi- ness/management, and sport/event skills as necessary skill sets for the leader(s) of an international one-off large-scale sporting event. Communicating the Brand to Stakeholders The role of communications in brand building is of prime importance. Keller (2003b, p. 283) referred to marketing communications as “the means by which firms attempt to inform, persuade, and remind consumers, directly or indirectly, about the brands that they sell.” However, one of the inherent problems identified with MONTREAL 2005 was the lateness in which the brand was created, hence the difficulties in developing a communications strategy for the brand. “We ran out of time for one aspect, as I see it. It was on the communication of what the event was. We really ran out of time” (Organizing Committee Third Executive Director). As illustrated in Figure 1, the organizing committee was well into its implementation mode (cf. Parent, 2005) when the brand was launched. As a result, the stakeholders’ images of the event became intrinsically linked with the way the leader of the organizing committee interacted with them as described below in the interview with the Organizing Committee Board Member, where Q and Q2 are the interviewers and A is the respondent (see also Table 2): Q: So the leader’s persona almost became the persona of the event then? A: It certainly has an effect. [The Second Executive Director] was quite impres- sive but he was defensive. He’s a big, tall, good looking guy and generally in command of the facts relating to things, but pointlessly aggressive. Q2: In your opinion, what is the importance of the leader in creating the images for an event? A: I think that if you don’t have a good leader, it’s very hard to create the necessary image and confidence. Q2: So then there’s a clear link between leadership and the leaders or leader in place and brand creation for an event? A: I think so. That’s a personal perspective but I think your leader has to live the brand or be the brand, and that translates. And if you can communicate that, then unless somebody has another agenda in the media or elsewhere, that’s what it becomes. Event Brand Creation Model 541 The role of public relations/publicity is also an important element in brand building, especially in sports (Mullin et al., 2000). The extensive coverage of sports and sporting events by the media provides a unique opportunity for sport organizations to communicate with external stakeholders. However, “communica- tions is a very expensive way to build your brand. It’s necessary but it’s expensive” (Organizing Committee Board Member). Given that most organizing committees do not have large budgets dedicated to publicity/advertising, building positive and strategic relationships with the media is essential: “Business partnerships with the media are really, really, really important for [promoting the brand]” (Organizing Committee Staff). You have to be able to position the event well. And communication, we’re talking about communication, but it is really expensive to promote an event. We were often criticized for not having done a PR campaign before. It’s about cost. You can’t sustain a publicity campaign for a year, unless you have major media partners. When I talk about partners, I mean in kind. Barring that, there is no budget that is big enough for an event PR campaign. You’re talking mil- lions. You’ve got two, three, four million dollars in publicity, that money gets quickly spent. And an event like ours doesn’t have those kinds of resources. (Organizing Committee Staff) Like Parent and Foreman’s (2007) event OIC model, the media could play an intermediary role in communicating the brand to stakeholders: While I have never been there, I’ve seen enough of it in the papers, etc., to understand what the Grand Prix Weekend [Formula 1 car racing] means in Montreal. And I didn’t feel that that was communicated properly to people for MONTREAL 2005. (Sponsor) However, unlike Parent and Foreman (2007), a greater distinction was found in terms of to whom the media communicated the brand. More precisely, the media could play an intermediary role in transmitting unchanged or “media-slanted” versions of the brand to external stakeholders, not internal stakeholders. That is, organizing committee member interviewees believed that brand transmission ought to have come directly from the leaders of the organizing committee: “I think that our [third] executive director had a lot of leadership in that respect; he was very, very comfortable in public. So his speeches were very motivating and enhanced the value for the staff” (Organizing Committee Staff). Thus, one of the roles of the organizing committee’s leadership group was to create and then transmit the brand (using images) directly to the employees and volunteers forming the organizing committee so as to motivate them. Brand images could then be communicated externally by employees’ interac- tions with different stakeholders (Harris & de Chernatony, 2001). However, brand communication to external stakeholders was oftentimes done through the media, which could put its own (positive or negative) spin on the story. We had a lot of trouble positioning the scale of the event in Montreal, that is, until we lost it. [At] that point, the media started talking about the size of the 542 Parent and Séguin event, which should have been done earlier. And yes, the leader could have played a part in that respect. We would have needed someone stronger in com- munications from the outset. (Organizing Committee Staff) The third leadership team’s vision (described earlier) was communicated to all stakeholders on numerous occasions (e.g., meetings, press conferences, and lead-up competitions). Findings therefore highlighted that, in communicating with stake- holders, it is important to have consistent messages (i.e., transmitted images) about the essence of the brand (i.e., identity) that are communicated in a uniform manner across all stakeholders groups. Stakeholders noted the importance of constant com- munication of the brand: “You must have a vision, you need to communicate it well, remind people throughout the [event’s] lifecycle of the vision, and focus on what’s our purpose” (Government Representative). Stakeholders also noted this may not have been done properly for MONTREAL 2005, which was acknowledged by the organizing committee as the following two quotations demonstrate: [The co-president 3b has] done a great job of helping the average Montrealer or the Grand Prix fans, certainly of understanding what Grand Prix Weekend means to Montreal. And while I have never been there, I’ve seen enough of it in the papers, etc., to understand what the Grand Prix Weekend means in Montreal. And I didn’t feel that that was communicated properly to people about MONTREAL 2005. (Sponsor) We must make sure that the people understand what it is [the event]. If you have enough time, you host a pre-competition [or test event] in each of the sports in collaboration with the sport organizations. You use your broadcaster and media team. You bring them with you in the promotion. You use your athletes. You talk about water polo. You show some tricks. Really to get people to understand what it is, and despite some last minute efforts, many people still did not really understand what the championships were. And then, they discover it slowly, as the championships unfolded: “Ah, yes look, that’s what it is. Oh yes, that’s it. Hey, look this is great.” (Organizing Committee, Third Executive Director) It is suggested that good communications will then create a favorable brand reputation (Harris & de Chernatony, 2001). In other words, communication must be coherently and effectively transmitted whenever there is contact with stake- holders (Tilley, 1999). However, the brand creation process does not stop with the communication of the brand to the stakeholders. Stakeholders’ perceptions of the brand must be known through some type of feedback mechanism and then used to adjust the brand (cf. Table 2 and Parent & Foreman, 2007). Event Brand Creation Model The preceding findings therefore allowed for the development of a brand creation model for one-off large-scale sporting events (see Figure 2). First, findings indicated that the leadership group is key in creating a brand. The leaders’ qualities must fit with the intended brand (i.e., identity of the event). However, this leadership-brand relationship is moderated by the context of the event. As well, leadership itself is 543 Figure 2 — The event brand creation model for one-off large-scale sporting events. 544 Parent and Séguin based on three skill sets: political/network, business/management, and sport/event skills. Second, the nature of the event has a direct impact on the creation of an event edition’s brand, with the event brand being greatly defined (if it exists) by the IF heading the event.These factors act as the core components for brand creation for one-off large- scale sporting events. As the brand is being created, it is communicated to the various stakeholders directly (for all stakeholders) or indirectly through the media (for external stakeholders). Communications also encompasses the way the lead- ers interact and deal with stakeholders, that is, the leaders have to live the brand. These stakeholders then reflect their perceptions (images) of the brand back to the leadership group so that the leaders may modify the event’s brand as needed. Finally, we posit that the brand must be created during the planning phase of the organizing committee’s life, that is, in the first half of its existence (cf. Parent, 2005) so that the organizing committee may capitalize on the benefits of having a good brand. Thus, for an organizing committee incorporated 4 years before the event is to take place, the brand must be created within the first 2 years. Conclusions and Future Directions In summary, leadership is the first key component in creating a brand for one-off large-scale sporting events. Leaders of one-off major international sporting events must have political/networking skills, business/management skills, and sport/event skills. The leader or leadership group’s qualities must fit with the event’s intended identity or brand. However, the impact of the leadership group’s skills on the creation of the brand is dependent upon the context of the event; for example, local business leaders will have more social capital—and thus greater influence on the creation of the event’s brand—than a business leader from another country. Of course, the nature of the event has an impact on the creation of the event’s brand. This aspect, though, is contingent upon the efforts of the IF holding the rights to the event. Creating the brand is not complete until initial thoughts on the brand have been communicated to all stakeholders directly (for internal and external stakeholders) or indirectly (for external stakeholders; through the media). Stakeholders’ thoughts about the event’s brand are then reflected back to the leadership group who can then make the necessary changes to complete the brand’s creation. It is therefore suggested that the importance of the leadership group, context, and nature of the event will vary depending on the situation. For example, the lack of a brand (as highlighted here for the pre-January 2005 organizing committee) will result in the leadership group having the greatest impact on brand creation; a crisis situation (such as in the case of the third leadership group or second orga- nizing committee) will result in the leadership group moderated by the context dominating the brand creation process; and preparing a well-known event like the Olympic Games or Mundial will result in the event aspect coming to the forefront of the brand creation process for the organizing committee. We thus provide three key factors but acknowledge that there are most likely other factors which contribute to building an event’s brand. Future research should expand on our concepts and model. For example, while not present in our case study, aspects such as the organization’s values (cf. de Chernatony, 1999, 2001) may be a component of brand creation and ought to be explored further. Event Brand Creation Model 545 As well, if IFs are not creating a brand for their respective event, there may be a reason for this, such as limited financial resources. Understanding the barriers to international brand creation and the reasons for not wanting to create an international brand for an event should be examined. For most national sport organizations who host a world championship, they do so as a one-off event and with a largely volunteer workforce. Do these organizations have the necessary resources to properly build a brand for the event and, perhaps more importantly, to leverage the brand to build a legacy once the event is over? Moreover, MONTREAL 2005 did, in theory, have all the necessary components for creating its brand by including aspects of the event and context and by creating a communications plan or strategies (see MONTREAL 2005, 2005 for details)— albeit relatively late in the process. But, they did not implement their plans; the question becomes, why not? These are issues which need to be examined in the future so that we may gain a better understanding of brand factors, creation, process, management, and outcomes in one-off international large-scale sporting events. Finally, while this article used a world championship where the organizing committee had a four-year lifecycle, this is not always the case—some world championship host cities are named only two years in advance. In such situations, what is the impact of the even shorter timeframe on brand creation, on the model proposed in this article? This article posited that the brand be created within the first half of the organizing committee’s life; but when exactly should the brand be created (i.e., what is an appropriate timeline? what is too late? what is too early?). 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What are the key aspects necessary for a leader in the i. Planning mode ii. Implementation mode iii. Wrap-up mode 3. How did leadership (and the change in leadership) influence the organizing committee in terms of a. Its structure b. Ability to access resources c. Financing (sponsorship, ticket sales, and fundraising) d. Ability to access stakeholders e. Relationship with you as a stakeholder f. Stakeholders’ perceived outcome of the sporting event g. Should the mayor be directly involved in the organizing committee? Why? 4. What are 3 words that come to mind when you think of the image of FINA 2005 before January 2005? After February 2005? a. As a stakeholder for FINA 2005, were you aware of the organizing com- mittee’s vision? Mission? How did this impact your perception of the image of Montreal 2005? b. What was the importance of the leader in creating these images of the orga- nizing committee? c. What were some of the key differences making it better or more difficult? Why? d. In your opinion, how does leadership impact brand creation? e. What are some challenges for an organizing committee when creating a brand? What would you recommend? 5. What were the influences of FINA’s marketing policies on the organizing com- mittee’s ability to generate marketing revenues? Event Brand Creation Model 549 a. How was the event positioned and presented to potential sponsors before the restructuring? b. How did the change in leadership impact the sponsorship program? c. Did the federal sponsorship scandal impact the organizing committee’s ability to generate funds? 6. What are the key differences between “sponsorship” and “corporate sup- port”? a. How important is category exclusivity in each case? b. What role does leadership play in formulating sponsorship decisions? i. Did these roles and impacts change over time? c. What role(s) did preestablished relationships between the organizing com- mittee’s leader(s) and the leaders within the corporate community play in gaining sponsorship/corporate support? d. How does leadership impact the event’s promotion to stakeholders and their desire to associate themselves with the event? i. Were there differences over time? e. As a stakeholder in the event, were you made aware of the sponsors’ objec- tives and activation plans? 7. How was the return on investment measured by the organizing committee and stakeholders? 8. Do you have any recommendations for the leadership of future similar events? 9. Do you have any recommendations for the sponsorship of future similar events? 10. Is there anything else you would like to mention?
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