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Friday, January 26, 2007

Beckham According To Wharton

When the Wharton School of Business writes about soccer, we know that a significant event has occurred. Wharton is the alma mater of Mr. Donald Trump, along with many other distinguished business men and women from around the world.

An article by Knowledge@Wharton described the anticipated effect of "Brand Beckham" on the North American soccer landscape. Several marketing experts were asked to provide their opinions.

"It's risky. But there's always a risk when so much is riding on an individual, when everything is centered around the brand of one person," says Wharton marketing professor Lisa Bolton. "But the thing about Beckham is that he can cut through the clutter. The team doesn't have to feature him with its own advertisements in order to raise awareness of soccer. And he is already making headlines in entertainment news. It's a good fit for sports as entertainment, particularly L.A. entertainment."

Professor Kenneth L. Shropshire, who teaches legal studies and business ethics, and is also the Director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, had the following comment:

"These are very savvy people leading the MLS. I'm certain it's a strategic move, but one -- and this is from the commissioner -- that is not meant to be the magic bullet that turns things around and makes soccer as popular in the U.S. as it is in the rest of the world. It is part of an apparent strategy. And Beckham is probably the one global name in soccer. Even if you don't know soccer, you know Beckham."

Wharton marketing professor David J. Reibstein views the event as a big gamble:

"What they have done is bet the farm," he says. "And when you bet the farm, when you are that risky, you get a lot of attention. They have done it with the most visible name in the sport. This is the perfect team for David Beckham. He is so L.A., he is so Hollywood -- both he and his wife. He is a celebrity and this is huge for the sport."

Please read the full article. By the way, Mr. Trump played varsity soccer in high school. Will Beckham ever hear, "You're fired!" Let's hope not.

Brand It Like Beckham: Can the Soccer Star Sustain the Hype?

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