20 Years On, What Can We Expect Next From Brand Beckham?

The 4th of July sees David and Victoria Beckham celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. Jane Mulkerrins reports on the secret to their brand success - and what they have planned next...

Brand beckham

by Jane Mulkerrins |
Updated on

When 24-year-old Manchester United footballer David Beckham married 25-year-old ‘Posh Spice’ Victoria Adams on 4 July 1999, in matching white-and-champagne Vera Wang, on golden thrones, not only was an enduring image created of the couple as self-appointed royalty, but Brand Beckham was officially born. Though both already rich, successful and influential in their own right, together, David and Victoria instantly became far greater and more powerful than the sum of their parts

And that was no accident. Even back then, as two high-profile working parents of four-month-old Brooklyn (who served as a ring-bearer in a miniature white suit of his own), the Beckhams refused to delegate duties for the big day, instead curating every aspect in minute detail. ‘They chose the photographer, the make-up artists, the flowers – they hand- picked the entire team around them [which numbered 437 members of staff] – Victoria was extremely knowledgeable about how she wanted to be presented,’ remembers Martin Townsend, former editor of OK! magazine, which covered the lavish wedding at Luttrellstown Castle in Ireland. ‘They knew what they wanted, so they weren’t exactly “easy” to work with, but they were incredibly professional.’

OK! offered a record £1m for exclusive coverage of the wedding over two weekly issues. ‘It was a lot of money at the time, but it was money well spent, because we sold an awful lot of magazines,’ says Townsend. The first week’s issue sold 1.5 million copies – four times OK!’s usual number – while the second week’s issue sold 1.3 million – sales figures that are unthinkable in today’s magazine industry. ‘Demand was so high that fights broke out in newsagents, including WH Smith in Victoria, to get hold of those issues,’ he recalls.

The Beckhams’ unique appeal, according to Townsend, is that they were ‘the boy and girl next door, so they were relatable, but they also had some mystique. They thought very carefully about everything they did, everything they wore, and they didn’t ride their faces all over town – they weren’t showing up at every event,’ he says. That careful thinking has proved enormously profitable. Today, according to The Sunday Times Rich List, Brand Beckham is worth £355m. David has lucrative brand endorsements with Adidas, Pepsi, Samsung, Haig whisky, L'Oréal and H&M, he owns the Kent & Curwen clothing brand and is poised to launch his new football club, Inter Miami, in 2020. Meanwhile, Victoria’s fashion label, Victoria Beckham, made a loss of £10.3m in 2017 but, thanks to a £30m private equity investment, is now valued at £100m. And in May, the couple bought out their long-time business partner, former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller, paying £38m for his 33% stake and giving them full control of Beckham Brand Holdings, which made £15.7m in 2017.

In an age of digital influence, their social media reach is no less impactful; David has 56.3 million followers on Instagram, and Victoria 25.6 million, both accounts regularly featuring images of the Beckham brood: Brooklyn, 20, Romeo, 16, Cruz, 14, and seven-year-old Harper. When the couple met at a charity football match in 1997, Victoria was, of course, by far the more famous of the pair, with a colossal Spice Girls fan base that spanned the globe (though she was hungry for more, announcing a few years later her wish to become ‘as famous as Persil Automatic’). But, crucially, their union straddled the worlds of showbusiness and sport, giving them a combined mass appeal across two separate and highly lucrative sectors. ‘Together, they were commercial dynamite,’ says Alan Edwards, founder of PR firm The Outside Organisation, which has represented both David and Victoria. ‘And they’ve built an incredible and truly global brand.’

The optics were the most overt element of this: matching outfits at public events, even matching hairstyles and colours. Stylish? Not always. But it strategically reinforced brand identity, as did appearing together in adverts for labels such as Emporio Armani. ‘They consulted branding experts, they really did their research,’ says a Beckham camp insider. ‘No couples had really done it to that extent before – they really created the celebrity power couple.’ And that, Beckham insiders agree, was largely down to Victoria’s vision. ‘Victoria was exceptionally driven and committed and very strategic in her thinking ,’ says Edwards.

When the Spice Girls spilt in 2000, Victoria made an attempt at a solo career, recording a single with Dane Bowers and working with R&B producer Damon Dash, but sales of a first solo album proved disappointing, and plans for a second were shelved. Her early forays into fashion were not wildly successful either, launching a jeans line for Rock & Republic, followed by her own denim label, dvb Style. David, meanwhile, had become not only a star player at Manchester United, but was captaining the England football team too. ‘The roles had reversed, and she was #1 WAG, but she was quite an unwilling footballer’s wife,’ says the insider. ‘She played it for a while, but then she decided she wasn’t going to stand next to him and be invisible.’

Nonetheless, such was the strength of Brand Beckham that even allegations of an affair between David and his then-personal assistant, Rebecca Loos, during his spell playing for Real Madrid, did not destroy either their marriage or the brand. In a statement issued at the time, David said the allegations were ‘ludicrous’. ‘To misquote the late Princess Diana, there are three people in that marriage: David, Victoria and the brand,’ says the insider. ‘They are both in love with the brand and what it stands for.’

When David signed a $250m deal with LA Galaxy in 2007, prompting a move stateside, Brand Beckham cranked up several gears. Together they graced the cover of super-cool US title W magazine and befriended the most A-list of their new Hollywood neighbours – Tom Cruise held a ‘Welcome to America’ party for them, attended by Will Smith, Demi Moore and Rihanna, among many others. They launched their perfume Intimately Beckham – the first of their 20 fragrances – in US stores and, a year later, Victoria launched her eponymous fashion collection at New York Fashion Week, in September 2008. It was a critical hit from the start, praised by fashion editors, even if its prices meant items were unattainable to the vast majority of the public. Once established, though, and finally taken seriously by the fashion world, Victoria introduced a lower price range, VB, and, more recently, a range for Target and two collaborations with sportswear brand Reebok.

I met Victoria at the launch of the second Reebok range in New York in January this year. She was sparky, funny and refreshingly candid and down-to-earth, warning, at the start of our interview, that: ‘We had a big night. We had a really, really big night.’ I already knew she had, because I was there, along with David and Brooklyn, all of whom partied with Victoria into the small hours, celebrating the collection launch in a hip bar on the Lower East Side, with DJ Fat Tony spinning ’90s classics. Presenting a united front – as is a hallmark of Brand Beckham – there were no signs of the apparent troubles that plagued the couple last year, when pictures of Victoria looking tense and unhappy at Meghan and Harry’s wedding prompted speculation, once more, that their marriage was in trouble, and that divorce might even be on the cards. ‘They had a truly terrible bad patch last year,’ reveals the insider. David was notably absent from the main cover of UK Vogue last year that featured Victoria, their four children and their cocker spaniel, Olive. This year, says the insider ‘they have been getting on better again’.

But David, who was once nicknamed ‘Goldenballs’ by his wife, has also seen his public image somewhat tarnished over the past couple of years, first by a furore over leaked messages in 2017, which apparently revealed he called the Honours Committee ‘unappreciative c***s’ after he missed out on a knighthood in 2013 (it was claimed the messages were ‘hacked and doctored’), then by using a lawyer nicknamed Mr Loophole to help him escape prosecution for speeding. But even Mr Loophole couldn’t help for long, though – in May, David was banned from driving for six months for using his mobile phone at the wheel of his £100,000 Bentley.

So, has the gloss finally begun to wear off Brand Beckham? ‘As a couple, they’re not quite fame-proof any more – they have collected burns and scars along the way,’ says the insider. However, that may be less of a problem than in the past, since Brand Beckham is no longer merely about David and Victoria, but encompasses their four children, and even Brooklyn’s girlfriend, model Hana Cross, 21. Brooklyn now has a fledgling photography career, while Romeo appeared in several campaigns for Burberry. The family is an essential feature of the front row at all of Victoria’s fashion shows, and Hana has become something of a muse, wearing all of Victoria’s clothes. However, it’s been Brooklyn and Hana, who have been at the centre of media speculation more recently, with reports of public fights and an incident at Cannes when their security had to step in during a particularly heated exchange. It prompted claims that David had asked his son to ‘distance himself from Hana’.

But for now, it’s business as usual and, with Victoria having launched her own YouTube channel promising beauty tutorials, styling tips and a behind-the-scenes insight into her life, it seems family is very much the future of the brand. The couple’s former publicist, Caroline McAteer, agrees this will be their ‘lasting interest’. ‘People can see they are genuine, both from normal families and have remained totally focused on their family as priority always,’ she told Grazia. ‘I also think their closeness to their own parents and family has helped them manage to stay grounded through everything.'

So what next? ‘They are really into the idea of legacy now, the idea of a dynasty – Victoria is obsessed with Kris Jenner and what she has created for the Kardashian family,’ said a family insider. Victoria has already trademarked all of her children’s names, over which she has control until they each turn 18. Which is not to say that there are not outstanding ambitions that David and Victoria both still entertain. ‘He would love to be some sort of Ambassador for Sport,’ says the insider. ‘And he desperately wants them to be Sir David and Lady Victoria. They have plenty of money – now he wants the title, the recognition and the respectability.'


Victoria Beckham wine - Grazia

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CREDIT: Instagram/@victoriabeckham

Victoria Beckham

'After show lunch with my favorite people x I could not do it without you x kisses ud83dude18 #VBAW19' posted Victoria on Instagram

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CREDIT: Instagram/@victoriabeckham

Victoria Beckham

Beckham captioned this epic wine glass pic with; 'Girl power xxx'

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CREDIT: Instagram/@victoriabeckham

Victoria Beckham

Celebrating 19 years with David Beckham (and wine!)

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CREDIT: Instagram/@victoriabeckham

Victoria Beckham

Technically not wine, but a whiskey-based cocktail, in a wine glass

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CREDIT: Getty Images

Victoria Beckham

A glass of champagne back when Victoria was blonde and spent a lot of time at football stadiums

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CREDIT: Getty Images

Victoria Beckham

Sipping on wine in 2005 with Eva and Roberto Cavalli

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CREDIT: Getty Images

Victoria Beckham

Way back in 1999 at the launch of Jade Jagger's jewelery range

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