David McGillivray

Professor, interested in events, culture, digital participation & sport.


Event Bidding: Politics, Persuasion and Resistance

It’s always rewarding to complete a project that you’ve been working on for some time, especially in the increasingly demanding world of academia. Today, my new book, Event Bidding: Politics, Persuasion and Resistance, written with my colleague Dr Daniel Turner, is now in print. This text takes a critical approach to the event bidding process, linking it to broader urban development imperatives, politics and national promotional narratives. While there are many texts out there that contain chapters focused on the operational aspects of event bidding, I think this is one of the first books to concentrate on the broader political, economic, social and cultural dimensions of bidding. It won’t be the last either, with John Lauermann and Robert Oliver soon to be publishing their new text on failed Olympic bids.

I’m particularly interested the politics of bidding and in the text we argue that:

The high stakes involved in bidding for a sporting mega event, in particular, lead bid committees to either circumnavigate or tread a fine line between the legal and ethical frameworks in place to ensure they give themselves the best chance of success. Event bidding is a political act and the content of bidding documentation can be used to advance some actors political ambitions…marketing and public relations techniques are increasingly influential in the campaigning and lobbying tactics employed by bid organisations. Consultants with intellectual capital from previous bids or with experience of international diplomacy are commissioned to design campaigns that win the hearts and minds of decision makers within the awarding bodies. Political support is crucial, as public diplomacy activities are executed to help persuade sporting federations and the awarding body that a city or nations bid is the one that will best showcase their event asset (McGillivray & Turner, 2017)

And yet, one of our other main arguments is that the slick marketing techniques employed by bid committees are facing increasingly sophisticated oppositional movements, that challenge both the global sport organisations that own these events and potential host organisers:

we argue that there is evidence that opposition to major event bids is becoming more effective, globally coordinated and increasingly (social) media savvy. Drawing on public discontent over the costs of bids, lack of transparency in decision making and concerns over the liabilities that may fall upon citizens in the long term, organised movements are now forming not only within each host bidding destination but also between them. It would be naïve to assume that small victories will necessarily result in longer term successes but we can be confident that bid committees and their partners are now being held to account in a more systematic manner than  was the case in previous decades (McGillivray & Turner 2017)

The landscape of event bidding is changing rapidly, with both event owners and prospective bidders having to operate in a nimble manner, adapting their strategies as new globalised challenges arise. Look out for a second edition of our text soon!



event biddingeventpolicyeventsmegaeventsolympics

David McGillivray • August 25, 2017

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