Sunday, 30 June 2013

David Beckham: Football's Biggest Star

Year after year, David Beckham is featured in the Top 10 lists of richest sportsmen in the world, but is it because he was one of the best footballers of his generation?

  1. According to Forbes magazine Beckham made $50.6 million in 2012. His salary with LA Galaxy       only accounted for around $6 million of this
  2. Sponsorship deals with H&M, Pepsi, Burger King, Adidas, Gillette, Giorgio Armani and Sainsbury among many others.
  3. Net worth - $260 million
''Right now he is one of the most important players in the world in terms of marketing..Beckham is an icon'' - Emilio Butragueno (Former Real Madrid player and Director of Football)

Notice how he didn't say one of the most greatest players, but important. It's obvious David Beckham was a very good player, but he was never close to reaching the likes of Messi, Maradona or Pele. He is, however, the most famous and well know footballer in the world by a long long way. It wasn't just his footballing skills that created this fame, so what was it?

When I think of all the other footballers who are just as talented, are just as good looking and also have famous other halves I wonder why it is Beckham that is the most marketable man in the world. Here are some of the possible explanations

  • 'That' goal against Wimbledon in 1996, see here
  • Marrying a member of the Spice Girls who were one of the famous groups at the time
  • Being named the ''ultimate metrosexual'' by the man who invented the term
  • Becoming a fashion icon as one of the first footballers to sign deals with major brands

All of these certainly helped, but I have come to the conclusion that the main reason is because of the image the media have created for him for the last 15 years. Beckham is no genius marketer, that is for sure. But his fame has taken a life of it's own ever since his first major sponsorship deal with Brylcreem. His marriage to Victoria Adams who was then in the worlds biggest pop band catapulted him into the 'celebrity world' and soon all the major brands were looking for him. This created a snowball effect as the likes of Pepsi and IBM jumped on the Beckham bandwagon just because he was the man of the moment.

The rise in popularity of celebrity culture coincided with Beckham's rise to fame and no doubt helped enhance his image as a celeb icon. All the tabloids were interested in every aspect of his life, and with the occasional moments of controversy all this lead to the creation of 'Brand Beckham'. The amazing thing is that he never really did anything other than be himself to become this global superstar. It was the media attention he received in every aspect of his life, and the equal level of interest the general public showed towards him.

So from a marketing perspective, what can you learn from Beckham, a man who has made the most of his limited abilities on the football pitch?  Firstly, that presentation matters. One of the main reason the media and global companies love him is because he is a good looking and always well dressed, he's due some credit here because I doubt he would be the star he is now off the pitch if he hadn't looked after himself. Secondly, he works hard. He may not have been one of the games greats but he put in the hard work to become a valuable member of any team he was in, his USP of incredibly accurate free kicks sure helped too. Thirdly, David Beckham is one of a kind and his career won't be repeated again.

Let's face it, Beckham's fame is unparalleled and is mostly because of external influences, he could easily be only remembered for his footballing years at Manchester United and Real Madrid but instead the heads of Armani, H&M and Adidas ensure that he will be remembered just as much for wearing their clothes as he for wearing red or white football jersey.

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