BODET, G.S.P. and LACASSAGNE, M-F., 2012. International place branding through sporting events: a British perspective of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. European Sport Management Quarterly, 12(4), pp. 357 - 374.
The goal of this study is to examine if hosting major sporting events represents a relevant strategy to brand a place ‘internationally’ through brand association transfer and to identify whether or not it should be seen as co-branding process. Based on social representation theory and an abductive research strategy, a survey was carried out among British citizens to identify their opinions about the Olympic Games and the city of Beijing following the organisation of the Games in August 2008. The content and the structure of the social representations were analysed and then compared to determine whether or not a double transfer of associations occurred between the place and the sporting event. The analysis concludes that although there was a transfer of elements from the sporting event to the place, few clearly positive elements were transferred and several negative associations remain. The results do not explicitly corroborate the transfer of associations from the place to the sporting event. The paper confirms the value of sporting events in place branding strategies but highlights some limitations such as the transfer of negative elements and the lack of media control. It also highlights the importance of the place selection process to protect the sporting brand.