Purpose - The paper aims to explore a major issue in international marketing: how to build a global brand in a way that makes a strong local connection. Design/methodology/approach - Using qualitative research methods on a single case, the Brisbane Goodwill Games, the processes used in the staging of this major sport event are analyzed. In particular, the stakeholder relations employed by the marketing department of the Goodwill Games Organization are investigated and a process model is developed that explains how a global brand can be built locally. Findings - A major outcome of the paper is a revision to the four-step Freeman process to make it more proactive; and three major principles for effective stakeholder management are articulated. The findings demonstrate that stakeholder analysis and management can be used to build more effective event brands. Stakeholder theory is also proposed as an appropriate and possibly stronger method of building inter-organizational linkages than alternatives such as network theory. Originality/value - Previous literature has generally dealt with the global brand issue in terms of the standardization versus adaptation debate, and the extent to which the marketing mix should be adapted to meet local needs in foreign countries. This research provides a unique extension to this literature by demonstrating how the brand itself needs to be modified to meet local needs.