The Brand Identity of a Football Manager: The Case of Arsène Wenger: An Abstract
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In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that the sports industry is worth £20 billion, with football accounting for 43% of this figure. Football clubs use a branding strategy to connect with the fans and to differentiate the club from its competitors. One of these components is the management of the club, specifically the manager. The manager is the human face of the football club brand and is the target of the fan’s joy or frustration with the performance of the team.
Branding is not limited to products and services, with people, specifically celebrities and CEOs having been the focus of research to determine how they impact the brand (or company) with which they are associated. However, the branding of football managers, either personally or as the representative of the football brand, has not been examined. This is surprising due to their contribution to the football (club) brand. Using an integrated theoretical perspective based on personal branding, corporate and CEO branding, this paper seeks to contribute the understanding of how an English Premier League (EPL) football manager (Arsène Wenger) develops his brand identity.
The study makes use of an exploratory research design, specifically a qualitative case study method. The league selected as the EPL, specifically a U.S.-owned club and from these clubs, Arsenal, and specifically Arsène Wenger was selected. Media articles were collected from the leading newspapers sites and from leading press agencies and sports writers in the United Kingdom with the initial search done using the manager’s name. A total of 1364 newspaper reports were analysed using NVivo from the perspective of the brand owner, that is, Arsène Wenger.
The analysis suggests there are three main components used to develop the football manager’s brand identity. First, the performance that includes player management, the on-pitch tactics and their managerial philosophy necessary to deliver positive results. The second component is the person (manager) including his personality, emotions and his visual and verbal communication style and finally the context in which the manager works, which includes the club, its finances, transfer policies and the supporters (fans) and professional bodies (such as the FA and UEFA).
The study seeks to develop understanding of how human brands are built in a dynamic and competitive sporting environment while assisting clubs in using this persona in their branding activities.