Remembering Nos Amours

Fan Response to Coopted Team Brand Identity and Franchise Relocation


  • Nicholas Burton Brock University
  • Craig Hyatt Brock University


identification, sentiment analysis, franchise relocation, brand community, social media


This study explores social media user sentiment towards the appropriation of a relocated franchise’s brand identity and team history. In so doing, the study equally examines the presence of – and key attachment variables to – forgotten fan brand communities on social media, in an effort to better understand the fan identification and brand community engagement of fans victimized by team relocation. The study is set within the context of the Washington Nationals’ 2019 celebration of the franchise’s 50th anniversary which included the adoption of the Montréal Expos’ uniform and commemoration of the team’s history. Drawing upon user posts and comments across both Twitter and Instagram, a sentiment analysis and thematic coding of the social media data was conducted, followed by an in-depth content analysis of Expos-related Tweets. The study’s findings suggest that while Expos supporters maintain a significant sense of identification with the club, fans’ response to the revival of the team’s image was largely balanced. These findings are reinforced by the existence of a sustained Expos fan community, whose primary attachment to the club hybridizes civic and symbolic allegiance, whereby the Expos identity and symbols represent both the franchise and the city in the minds of fans. As a result, Expos fans evidenced a form of schizoidentification to their team and its successor, offering important insights for teams seeking to capitalize upon its franchise history in marketing and for cities seeking to re-acquire professional sports organizations following the relocation of a former franchise.


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