We are struggling to come to terms with the news that Lord Beckham of Ongar and Leytonstone has packed away his Adidas Predator LZ boots. His like will not be seen again. His footballing and soccer achievement is extraordinary: who could forget the stunning injury-time free-kick booking England a place in the 2002 World Cup finals salvaging a 2-2 draw against Greece?
The announcement of his retirement has been beautiful managed. No leaks; just a huge surprise, hijack the news agenda (much to the chagrin of PRs with non Beckham related stories to tell). Golden Balls has proved yet again that he possesses a miraculous gift for wrangling the media. The squeaky voiced, blond curtained young hopeful has matured into a personality of considerable substance, a man at ease with public scrutiny.
We don’t know yet what the grand plan for continued world dominance is, but rest assured there is one. Becks could easily become a sporting politician, a fashion icon or a powerful charity champion. It’s a mark of his PR genius that he has not declared a future direction, instead his minders have cleverly fostered an atmosphere of fevered speculation. Hours of radio, acres of newsprint and tens of thousands of tweets wonder about future direction for Brand Beckham, creating the perfect backdrop for whatever he announces next. By leaving the Game, Beckham won’t have the usual tactic of refreshing public interest by joining a new club available to him. But his hype machine rises above this, and it’s certain that his new endeavours will be tacitly exploited for maximum effect.
Beckham has established himself as a great British brand with proven worth. The media needs Beckham, and the brand needs the oxygen of publicity more. Let’s hope the confidence of the last 5 years will sustain. Some find the dwindling interest in stars of yester year hard to stomach. Brand Beckham must proceed with care. Desperate, ill thought tactics, or, heaven forbid, poor stunts and rash licencing will damage the fabric of success. The time and effort to fix any short term deals is likely to be expensive.
So, enjoy the flattering eulogies while they last. The first step into the brave new world is the hardest.