According to Top money-making football players list of Goal.com, David Beckham holds the 1st position (175 million pounds/year), followed by Lionel Messi (115 million pounds) and Cristiano Ronaldo (112 million pounds).
Most money-making means highest commercial value.
Surprising? Beckham has never been considered as a top football player even in his greatest time much less he is now 37 years old already.
Difficult to explain? Messi and Ronaldo are currently in their peak time and named as 2 brilliant talents of the world contemporary football.
Nothing to surprise anyway. Beckham’s fame has gone beyond the boundary of football. We can explain this phenomenon under the light of brand management.
According to David Aaker, the famous American brand strategist, one of the most important criteria to evaluate a brand value is its TOM associations. In a normal course, a top brand has more than one TOM association.
When customers think about smartphone in general, iPhone firstly comes to their minds. As customers think about a smartphone of very nice design, it’s iPhone again. And even when finding a chic smartphone, the Apple appears again in customer mind.
David Beckham personal brand also has such TOM associations.
First of all, Becks is a football talent
Who is the best right-sided football midfielder in the world? David Beckham is certainly named out. That is the first TOM association of Beckham as a football player.
Many claim that Becks is bloody famous because he is damn handsome. Diego Maradona ironically commented that: “David Beckham? I think he is too pretty.”
Sorry, “the golden boy”. Though you are an excellent talent, you still stay behind the “too pretty” boy in some certain skills such as crossing or free-kick to turn into a goal.
It’s not an exaggeration that there is no player with such an accurate skill like Becks – the live legend of Man United. You don’t believe? Just ask Nisterooy, Coles and Yorke – well-known strikers who admitted that they “desperately” miss “curve” by Becks when they played together.
Becks is damn handsome. God generously gives him a perfect appearance which also get him into the difficulty. If had Becks not have such appearance, perhaps his football talent would have been better recognised.
Remember that Becks achieved Bobby Chrton’s award for his excellent football skills. Becks was awarded at Old Trafford in his debut match.
In a response to rumors around PSG’s Becks transfer, Leonardo, PSG’s sport director, said that “You say that we bring him to PSG for shooting, promotion, press release and clothes selling. That is your own verdict but no one would say that if they ever saw Becks play. You are football experts, an’t you?”
Of course, Becks is not disturbed by Maradona’s subjective opinion. He only needs the recognition of Sir Alex Ferguson who founded and nourished his talent. “I know Beckham as one of the best players at MU. He is a genius.”
In branding, there is a term “Point of Parity”. As a football player, talent is the point of parity that Becks must have to remain in the list of “famous players”. Just imagine if Becks were not a talented player, would his appearance and elegance make him the highest paid commercial brand in the world in such a long time?
Definitely not. Though Beckham’s point of differences against other football super stars are the beauty and elegance of a real gentleman.
David Beckham – a benchmark of an elegant gentleman
An UK financial company, Virgin Money, made a survey with the question “Who do you want to be on the pound currency?”. And 37% respondents said that they want the former captain of England football team to replace Elizabeth Queen.
According to the Mail on Sunday, Beckham has helped Adidas sell 10 million football shirts since he started his professional career and signed an endorsement contract with Adidas. As the current price, Beck’s name has earned up to 950 million pounds for Adidas.
Becks would hardly earned such broad adoration if he were just a talented right-sided midfielder (and a central midfielder at LMS and PSG).
Another TOM brand association of Becks is the elegant gentleman. Becks is different from other players by this brand association. It is not hard to find talented stars or handsome players, but there is only one exceptional “gentleman” like Becks.
After several scandals, Becks has become a symbol Angle man for lifestyle (Becks is very responsible for his family); a romantic elegance (after having Vic’s phone number, Becks wrote on 6 pieces of paper and stick on every room in case he forgot). And after all, we should not forget to mention his professional behavior in career.
Everyone still remember the “flying shoe” scandal of Sir Alex which expelled Becks from Old Trafford to Bernabeur. It was hurting but Becks has never had any bad words for his “second father” Ferguson.
How about his beloved Man United? In his book “My side”, Becks said that wherever he goes, MU is always his everlasting love.
Players wearing No.7 shirt in MU are all legends, but Becks is always the most favorite one. When Becks went to Real, MU lost 15% global fans for Real (of which, 6% England fans).
It’s not because he is the most talented player (we still have Best, Cantona or Ronaldo). Beckham; however, is certainly the best “Man United-styled” gentleman.
The point of parity of football super star is outstanding talent. The more special the talent is, the higher the brand value is. Becks is an exception with many simultaneous TOM associations: outstanding talent, appearance attraction and the symbol of an elegant gentleman.
All these brand associations help Beckham attract a great deal of fans ranging from various age, gender, profession and geography. This is an extremely attractive point for big brands in their celebrity endorsement choice decision.
There is no need to be sad for two symbols of modern football, Messi and Ronaldo when their personal brand value stays behind a predecessor that has stepped into the retirement period in football.
David Beckham brand has simply gone beyond the football field.
Nguyễn Đức Sơn
Giám đốc chiến lược thương hiệu – Richard Moore Associates