The former top-football player and pop star combined their fame, forging it into a vast business empire over the years.
By now, you’ve probably either seen or heard of the Netflix documentary “Beckham”, released earlier this week.
Over four episodes, David Beckham and many of his relatives talk the viewers through his football career. A decade after he retired, the ex-football star is still very much a star – and so is his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham.
The Beckhams have been described as a power couple, as they are part of this very select elite of celebrity pairings that most people know – like Jay-Z and Beyonce, or as they once were, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
As well as being famous in their own right, the likes of these couples are also so well known for coming together to turn their relationship into a worldwide business brand.
In spite of the Beckhams’ disputable initial fashion tastes of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the unknown-kids-turned-celebrities established a solid business.
According to the Sunday Times, the celebrity couple’s net worth is estimated to be close to €500 million.
How did they reach such status?
The obvious answer would be to say that both were individually famous before becoming an item.
Victoria Beckham, then Adams, was a member of 90’s girls band the Spice Girls. David Beckham was Manchester United’s rising star.
But it takes more than two celebrities getting married for their family to become household names.
For David Beckham, his sports career took off at a moment when footballers were progressively becoming celebrities. It may seem normal nowadays when you think about the likes of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but it was not so prominent in the 1990’s.
The public was progressively becoming used to players promoting face creams, sneakers or mobile phone plans. That’s exactly what David Beckham did.
His image was not just associated with Manchester United or England’s games anymore: People saw him in magazines, on TV, and soon enough, on the internet.
“The strategic and commercial disciplines that were applied to manage and develop his brand were similar to the ones that branded businesses use,” explained brand and business consultant Andrew Milligan, author of Brand It Like Beckham. “It was a very intelligent, well-advised long term approach to brand building.”
Meanwhile, Victoria Beckham was a world-famous British pop star.
“Posh”, as she was called thanks to her alias as “Posh Spice” while a member of the Spice Girls, stayed in the spotlight after the band fell apart. As the wife of the man who was probably, at the time, world’s most famous football player, the paparazzi never let her out of their sight.
Victoria Beckham continued appearing on the frontpage of magazines – and soon, she would launch her own fashion business.
Capitalising on their fame
Their wedding is a good example of how they monetised their young family. The press talked about the event as the show business event of the year. The bride and groom received £1 million from a British magazine to get exclusive hold of the pictures (over €2 million adjusted to today’s inflation).
In the recent Netflix documentary, the couple shares how getting constant media attention could be extremely stressful for their family – especially with young children.
At the same time, that very media attention helped them build their brand, and turn their name into a lucrative business.
In “Beckham”, David states: “I knew my career was going to end at some point, and I wanted to have a career after football.” And that’s exactly what he did.
After sponsoring Pepsi, H&M and other brands, David Beckham decided to create his own. He sells perfumes, eyewear, and runs several investment companies.
Following a lucrative football career entailing multi-million-pound contracts (or euros, or dollars, depending where he played), David Beckham invested in different companies, including owning an unknown percentage of the US’s Major League Soccer (MLS) and becoming a 10-year ambassador for Qatar, starting from the 2022 World Cup.
He and his wife Victoria also co-own companies, such as Beckham Brand Holdings Limited, that covers David’s brands and Victoria’s fashion business. In the latest accounts filed, the couple declared a profit of over €22 million for the year 2021.
Victoria went through a very similar path. After being a model for brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and making fashion magazine front pages regularly, she launched her own fashion lines.
After a first denim collection in 2006, under the brand dVb (which stands for David and Victoria Beckham), she quickly moved to the Victoria Beckham label and introduced her first fashion line at New York Fashion Week in 2008.
To say that she was first met with scepticism would be an understatement. The former pop-star was not initially taken seriously in elite fashion circles.
However, Beckham proved herself worthy of the world's luxury brands and runways. Vogue described her as “one of the most unexpectedly serious fashion contenders in recent memory.”
Fashion and football are two fields that people consume both online and offline 24/7: A strength, according to Andrew Milligan, that both Beckhams have been able to capitalise on.
“Together with Victoria and even his children, [David] Beckham is one of the few brands you will find on the front and back page of a newspaper and in almost every section - including business - in between.”
Family turned into a brand
Victoria and David Beckham grew their businesses and family while the internet and social networks were actively developing.
Just like the world’s most famous family of celebrities, the Kardashian-Jenners, the power couple understood the importance of exploiting their family image to boost their brands.
Even in the late 1990’s, David enjoyed the image of a family man who didn’t hesitate to miss a training session with Manchester United to take care of his sick infant son.
In interviews and magazines over the years, both Beckhams enthusiastically shared details about their parenting styles and private family life, once again reaching an audience beyond their respective fields.
The couple doesn’t hesitate to share private pictures on their Instagram profiles, captivating their tens of millions of followers with not just what they have to sell, but who they are.
Their four children, Brooklyn, Cruz, Romeo and Harper Beckham, aged between 24 and 12 years old, are walking in their parents’ footsteps.
Last year, Brooklyn, the Beckhams’ eldest, married American heiress Nicola Peltz. The wedding attracted media attention just like his parents’ before him, and the press battled to obtain the picture rights to the event that is rumoured to have cost over €3.5 million.
It appears the Beckham business empire may yet have many years ahead of it.