Branding Governance in International Recurring Sports Events: The World Rugby ‘Sevens’ Series
Research Question: In response to calls for additional research on brand governance in sports, we examine brand governance practices in the novel and under researched context of the World Rugby Sevens Series. In doing so, we expand the discourse on rugby in the 21st century and provide fresh insights regarding the brand governance practices in an international recurring sporting event.
Research methods: Our qualitative case study design utilizes in-depth interviews with eight rugby senior executives representing seven rugby unions. Using the constant comparison technique and reflexive thematic analysis, we identify nine key themes to illustrate brand governance as it relates to the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Results and findings: The first three themes, which serve as a prelude to a deeper discussion of brand management practices depict World Rugby Sevens Series as a distinct, rebellious-responsible, co-created sportainment brand. Fostering close and beneficial exchanges with brand partners, developing strong collaborative ties with host cities and venues, commitment to athlete performance through care and support, adoption of strategic corporate social responsibility to enhance the brand, championing brand co-creation, and activating social media use are the brand governance practices on which the World Rugby Sevens Series is built.
Implications: We provide a fine-grained exposition of branding from the brand owner’s perspective. For the World Rugby Sevens Series, brand governance requires the ability to collaborate with and serve the needs of key stakeholders including global partners, local sponsors, rugby unions, host cities and venues, athletes, and fans.