Beckham is no Virgin: so media men please form an orderly queue!

Beckham takes one for the brand building cause - his is a no holes barred approach

What sort of entity is David Beckham? Obviously one who is extremely well advised and marketed. What is certain is you have to look at him in terms of his personal and public personas to gain any proper impression.

Most truly famous people whose career is based on a skill that has made them famous, rather than an incident or accident of fate, try to separate their private and public lives, segregating what is too intimate and personal to share or that which needs protecting (i.e. a young family) from the information they drip feed to their very attentive admirers. And achieve it with varying degrees of success.

Beckham for my mind fits uncomfortably between the two and is conflicted. He wants to protect his private life but realising it’s a bit empty without a few cameras and a bit dull. He wants to allow his children to develop outside the public eye but can’t resist using them to tease the odd bit of publicity: under his managements agents direction.

The fact he has this choice shows him to currently be an “A-lister” in this decade dominated by the DJ’s and Singers and a few Actors. B to Z list celebrities don’t usually have a choice or the ability to “push back” as their fame needs to be continually nurtured. Their fame is transitory and frequently based on incident, accident, time or place and sustained by the benefit of a burst of intensive media space (sensations or news coverage at the time they held the publics attention (i.e. cast of friends)) and not by a growing sense of achievement and success.

Arguably you could say Beckham in his chosen profession has not enjoyed that much success and is of course now playing in the minor USA football league. Where money is more important than substance and the rules of the game are in flux “like the wild west”. However this is not the reason I would say David Beckham is already an A – (minus) lister: this downgrade is because he appears constantly available to the media and because of the mass market scale of his associations (i.e. fragrance, sports wear) there is a constant need to promote his own brand.

The irony is because of this needy thirst for publicity and the generic nature of his brands, Beckham the footballer and spokesman for sporting issues is beginning to look more and more like a brand extension of his own consumer facing brand. His “side bar” of a football career is already making him seem that way and I would not be surprised going forward if a pleading David Beckham asked to be included in the Olympic Team. A “Sir” David would be the ideal way of putting the gloss on what has been, bar one startling performance against Greece, and a couple of other good ones, a fairly poor and uninspiring international career. And if we add in the famous sending off.

It should be an exciting couple of years as the football Beckham goes into terminal decline and the branded Beckham soars. How this influences the core of the brand Beckham and the way it is perceived will be intriguing and there are only a few possible direct comparisons.

I anticipate Beckham will be using his career twilight to formalise his brand and elevate it, if not in premium terms then in awareness and communication terms, and only time will tell how successful his puppet masters will be in making the appropriate brand connections whilst restraining “Posh”. Their hope must be with the characters involved that they can manage to create through DVB a brand that can drive  its own publicity via a distinct personality and extraordinary performance and not be reliant on what David can generate. To date the product range looks uninspiring and in the case of the perfume and aftershave destined to regularly populate the end of sale bin item. Then again Pierre Cardin has made a spectacularly successful business out of merchandising past glories – and a sense of faded glory – and at this moment this seems to be fate of the Beckham and DVB.  Though that said DVB scans better and does reach out to a better genealogy than the Beckham name through the Aston Martin connection.

Looks like this may go into extra time after all.

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Posted in Branding, Football Crazy Brands

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