Personality association and celebrity museumification of George Best (with nods to John Lennon)

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It is common practice for cities to be associated with celebrated sons and (sometimes) daughters. This is tied to aligning the branding process to a selected individual’s personality, achievements or celebrityhood to ‘sex up’ the city’s image. In this paper we compare and contrast the ‘museumification’ of George Best in Belfast and John Lennon in Liverpool. Our findings show, as expected, similarities in how both artists have been museumified in their respective cities; more importantly, however, we also demonstrate significant differences in how the celebrity museumification and associated landscaping has been received in Belfast and Liverpool. Firstly, it is claimed that Liverpool’s association with Lennon is based upon a ‘highly selective’ reading of his life and ‘cleaning up’ of his past; however, this is not the case with Best in Belfast. Secondly, the celebrity museumification of Lennon received widespread local support; this is not the case with Best due to an ongoing debate about his suitability as a Belfast icon. We problematise this situation and ruminate as to why Best is seemingly more divisive compared to Lennon. Beyond the spatial spotlight of Belfast and Liverpool, the findings from this paper offer insights and lessons for place branding professionals and practitioners in other cities around the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-419
Number of pages10
JournalPlace Branding and Public Diplomacy
Issue number4
Early online date10 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2021


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