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  • When David Beckham visited the Amazon in 2016

  • he said it was one of the only places in the world he hadn't been recognized.

  • And that's pretty unusual for someone who gets this type of reception almost everywhere he goes.

  • To play soccer, like David Beckham.

  • This is the story of how David Beckham became one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

  • Even though he retired from soccer five years ago, David Beckham's image is still as powerful as ever.

  • The Beckhams have an estimated net worth of $450 million,

  • but more than that they have an influence most brands dream of.

  • I don't think we could understate how many times we've seen David Beckham's image

  • and how much, by sheer repetition, it's been printed on our minds.

  • Robert Williams is Bloomberg's luxury and retail reporter based in Paris.

  • From airport billboards to TV commercials to glossy magazine ads,

  • it's just an effect of recognisability that's been built up over the years.

  • People assume that I've got so many brands, but I actually haven't.

  • We've got quite a few.

  • Those few make up a wide base of products and partnerships

  • including whisky, watches, charities and more.

  • The other thing to say about Brand Beckham is that it is very much a phenomenon of its time.

  • Andy Milligan is a brand consultant who wrote the book on Brand Beckham.

  • Celebrities can become brands in a very potent way, sometimes in a more meaningful and relevant way than traditional products

  • because at the heart of a personality brand

  • there is a human story which is constantly fascinating and evolving.

  • And Beckham isn't just selling himself, his whole family is part of the story.

  • Victoria Beckham has created a critically acclaimed luxury fashion label.

  • In 2017 she received a $40 million investment from a former Goldman Sachs banker,

  • valuing the business at around $130 million.

  • Victoria set the pace for this couple and really positioning herself as an entrepreneur

  • and not just as a model or someone who does endorsements.

  • The Beckham children are part of the brand too.

  • As well as modelling contracts and book deals, each child's name is trademarked

  • which means only the Beckhams can use their names on products.

  • All of this is a contrast to David Beckham's own modest childhood growing up in east London.

  • Though never compared to the likes of Pelé or Maradona,

  • it was Beckham's drive which made him stand out early on.

  • He went and got for himself one of the most prestigious sports marketing companies,

  • whose clients in those days included people like Alan Shearer and Michael Owen, very high profile footballers.

  • He got them at an early stage in his life and I think that was the first sign of intent.

  • And like all good success stories, timing was key.

  • Beckham made his league debut for Manchester United when he was 19.

  • Just a few years earlier the establishment of the English Premier League

  • had created a significant increase in viewership both at home and abroad.

  • He just happened to be the right man at the right time.

  • If he'd been in football even 10 years earlier, I'm sure he would have been successful

  • but he wouldn't have had nowhere near the opportunities to make such an impact as he did during the '90s.

  • Beckham quickly realized he could create value with his image.

  • In 2002 when asked why contract negotiations were taking so long, he put it down to one thing - image rights -

  • payments made by the club for the right to use anything related to the Beckham brand -

  • his name, face, even the way he kicked a ball.

  • While he wasn't the first footballer to receive such payments, the earnings were significant

  • and alongside his endorsements made him the world's highest paid soccer player.

  • Photographer: David just to your left.

  • This was all part of what Andy calls the "earn till you burn" model.

  • Trying to bank as much money as possible before retirement.

  • His first deal with hairstyling brand Brylcreem was worth £1 million

  • and created a 50% surge in sales.

  • Photographer: Sit up straight, David.

  • [Laughs]

  • This was followed by deals with more global brands like Pepsi, Adidas and Gillette.

  • Unlike other footballers, he also extended his image beyond the pitch too -

  • including a £20 million deal with Armani in 2007 which attracted a great deal of attention.

  • It is a rare man who can be that tough on the field and also have his own line of underwear.

  • [Laughs]

  • He took a big risk early in his career by showing his interest in fashion,

  • his willingness to be a bit daring with his look at a time

  • when that wasn't necessarily attached to masculine role models.

  • It's not something that athletes were willing to risk their image on before.

  • It's come down to three consistent things through which the Beckham brand is delivered.

  • It's football, it's fashion, and I'd call it, it's feel good

  • but he takes risks inside those.

  • The risks seems to have paid off.

  • A couple of years after his retirement, Beckham earned £45 million.

  • That was more than 13 times as much as he was paid in his last year as a footballer

  • and more than any former athlete in the world apart from Michael Jordan.

  • But football is still the focus.

  • It's been confirmed that David Beckham is to start a soccer franchise in Miami.

  • During his move to LA Galaxy in 2007, his contract included

  • the option for him to buy a Major League Soccer team for $25 million at the end of his career.

  • A smart deal sweetener now that expansion teams cost six times that.

  • Today you made my dream come true.

  • And all of this secures Beckham's brand exposure in soccer and the US for the foreseeable future.

  • There's a legacy being built there that will survive David Beckham,

  • and actually that is the ultimate testament to the way he's thinking,

  • and indeed, to the way that really good brands and brand owners think.

  • Proof perhaps that this is a brand that relies on more than just a pretty face.

When David Beckham visited the Amazon in 2016

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How David Beckham Became a Brand

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    Samuel posted on 2018/07/29
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