Sports and Nation Branding

Interview with Simon Anholt on Nation Branding blog

Can you see a connection between sports and nation branding?

Indeed it is part of my area of research, and it’s one of the questions we ask in the “culture” section of the Nation Brands Index. I have written many times about the connection between major sporting events and a country’s image, and what makes the difference between a successful Olympics or World Cup, and one that’s forgotten within a few months. I have also researched in great detail how perceptions of a country’s sporting excellence contributes to people’s perceptions of the country’s population. The connection is a very strong one.

This is an interesting topic to research and recently Nation Branding blog has posted a recent dissertation on the effects that the World Cup are having on nation’s brands. But as Anholt argues, countries need to be ‘obsessive’, they cannot rely on the legacy of holding a great event to last forever! This maybe the case for South Africa, as the months pass after the event ends, will people still remember the country, will they still visit and will their reputation increase or be forgotten. This is why it is important for countries to always be pushing for the next big step!

In terms of the countries competing in the World Cup – creating a legacy and media attention is a lot harder for less known countries, therefore they need to relish in the attention to create a reputation, and a good one at that. But the impact will most likely be minimal… If they will not be a winning team, then countries need to show their character and style to be remembered. But achieving this is the difficult part.


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