Commercialization of sports: Commercial branding perspectives for national sports federations

Kimmi Ae-Joo Kjelgaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


This study is conducted in order to answer whether or not commercial branding is applicable with sport federations. The results have been found through extensive research conducted by me, and analysis of brand theory. Key findings of the study include the following. Measured against brand definition theory DGF is not a brand in the public debate on which to lean – it is merely the sport of gymnastics that is the brand in relation to DGF. Towards partners like DIF, volunteers, etc. DGF are of course a brand in relation to their brand name and factors like competitions, courses, and other supplied products, as reasons to actively chose the DGF products. However, in the general society DGF is not a brand. Two reasons are proposed to why commercial branding cannot be applied with sport federations: 1) a federation is an organization mainly controlled politically; it is not a business with main focus on bottom line achievement, and 2) the main branding purpose is typically to brand the sport and not the federation. Further, it’s important to keep in mind that by focusing on sport event you turn away from the diversity of a sport for the mass (everyone) towards the few elite exercisers. This indicates a professional approach to sport, which doesn’t always correlates to the wishes and needs of small local clubs, who any time will try to ensure the best conditions for exactly their club. Finally, sport federations shouldn’t necessarily be brands. The sport is the brand, which is important to be correctly branded in relation to commercial branding. From the research and analysis in this study it is my belief that the nature of sport federations, as we know them today will not exist in the future. The bureaucratic approach no longer applies – the sport federations must be professionalized without losing the organizational feeling. Therefore, important and partial important decisions and to some extend strategic decisions cannot be left up to the elected parties, who might not have any substantiation or expertise for making important decisions. E.g. it should not be left to a social worker to dictate the communication strategy of the federation, if a competent and communication-­ educated chief of communication is already employed to perform this task. Thus, the decision-­making must to a greater extend be centralized leaving it up to professional employees, who have the expertise.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages129