Title: The allure of an 'overseas sweetheart': a Liverpool FC brand community

Authors: Anthony K. Kerr, Paul R. Emery

Addresses: School of Management, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC 3086, Australia. ' School of Management, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC 3086, Australia

Abstract: The media|s reach and influence has exposed many sport teams to millions of fans worldwide. Muniz and O|Guinn (2001) claimed that brands now transcend geography, and this has led to the rise of the brand community, or ||a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand|| (p.412). Although there are now global team brands, little attention has been paid to the existence of a community focused on |non-traditional| brands such as the sport team. This article concludes that a brand community exists for the English Premier League|s Liverpool FC. A worldwide network of supporters exhibited a shared consciousness, rituals and traditions and a sense of moral responsibility, and derived psychological benefit from their fandom. A team|s brand community can fuel its brand equity in foreign markets (Kerr and Gladden, 2008), and so confirmation that this community exists, and might be exploited, is welcome news for sport marketers who battle in a competitive global marketplace.

Keywords: brand community; brand communities; sports brands; satellite supporters; foreign fans; Liverpool FC; LFC; team identification; online questionnaire; online interviews; football fans; soccer fans; sport marketing; fan identification; English Premier League; brand equity; psychological benefit; fandom; foreign markets; sport branding.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2011.041572

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2011 Vol.9 No.3/4, pp.201 - 219

Available online: 26 Jul 2011 *

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