Brand Beckham launches its first major United States advertising campaign this week, but experts have warned America could prove a tough nut to crack for the most marketable face in football.
After finishing his spell at Real Madrid with a Primera Liga winners’ medal, David Beckham is now preparing for his summer switch to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Beckham’s focus will be on recovering from a recent ankle injury, but his camp is preparing for a media blitz.
Adidas will this week launch “Futbol Meets Football” a campaign that will see Beckham swapping sports with NFL star Reggie Bush, the first of many campaigns to come this summer.
However, a report from the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre at the University of London has said Beckham’s brand could struggle to make the breakthrough stateside.
The university conducted a survey which found that less than half of Americans know who David Beckham is and what he represents. To those who are familiar with the Beckham brand, it was his wife Victoria, the former Spice Girl, who elicited the greatest response.
Beckham was identified by those who know of him as a trend-setting, stylish, metro-sexual, Englishman, but few identified him as a patriotic family man, something that has been a key part of his image at home in England.
The results “bring mixed news for Beckham and his advisors,” said Dr Simon Chadwick, director of the Birkbeck school.
“On the one hand, amongst brands that are successfully introduced into new markets there is often a level of awareness and expectation built up around them. In this respect, the Beckham brand already has some equity,” he said.
“However, in the American market, much of this appears to have been built on the back of Victoria, the Spice Girls, his good looks and a belief that he is a skilful footballer. If Brand Beckham is to have any longevity, David must strive to make the most of what else he has to offer.”
Beckham will be the subject of an advertising blitz in the coming months, with the Adidas campaign just the start.
ESPN plans to use the former England captain as a key figure in promoting its coverage of Major League Soccer.
Other major endorsement partners like Pepsi and Gillette can then be expected to follow suit.
But in an already crowded sports endorsement market, Beckham has work to do to stand out and ensure he is able to maximise the incentives reported to be written into his five-year contract with the Galaxy, the value of which could reach 250 million (£125million).
“America is a large and important sporting market,” Chadwick said. “However, one cannot assume that it will be easy pickings for Beckham – he needs good advice, his brand needs careful management and it is unlikely that football alone will be enough for the Beckham brand to become as powerful as, say, the Tiger Woods brand.
“This is not necessarily going to be easy. Americans not only identify more with personalities from sports other than soccer, they also like successful, eloquent, trouble-free, clean-cut types. Beckham therefore faces the challenge of promoting such qualities if he is to maximise the chances of his brand being a success.
“At the very least, Beckham must do well in the games he plays for LA Galaxy and must be seen as a successful sportsman.”