Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bend It Like Nate Kaeding

About a million years ago, I mentioned that while this site is dedicated first and foremost to all things Senators, I was also a fan of sport in general and every so often I'd indulge myself by posting about other leagues. One of the great things about running my little soap box here is that I am free to write about anything I run across that tickles my fancy. Well, lo and behold, my fancy has been well and truly tickled this morning.

I would suspect that you know the gentleman pictured here. Even those of you...ahem...like a certain hockey blogger...who think soccer is nothing but a game played by wimpy pantywaists who spend more time rolling around on the ground crying to their mommies while clutching random parts of their own bodies until a little man with a magic spray can runs out onto the field to HEAL them (TESTIFY!), and hence wouldn't know Diego Maradona if he were rooting through your garbage looking for lunch (which he may well be doing at this very moment), have heard about Mr. Posh Spice himself, David Beckham.

Similarly, I would suspect that you may also be dimly aware that Mr. Beckham has agreed to play for Major League Soccer's L.A. Galaxy for a reported $250 million, and the exclusive rights to any Spice Girls reunion tour. It was hoped by the MBAs who run MLS that bringing in Sir Blonde Highlights would immediately legitimize a league that can't draw flies outside of a few latin american communities in the southern U.S. Good plan. But it may not be working out all that well:

(Birkbeck Sport Business Centre at the University of London) conducted a survey which found that less than half of Americans know who Beckham is and what he represents. To those who are familiar with the Beckham brand, it was his wife Victoria, the former Spice Girl, who elicited the greatest response. The results "bring mixed news for Beckham and his advisers," Birkbeck director Dr. Simon Chadwick said. "On the one hand, amongst brands that are successfully introduced into new markets there is often a level of awareness and expectation built up around them. In this respect, the Beckham brand already has some equity.

So in order "leverage the brand"(shudder), Adidas devised an ad campaign whereby Beckham and New Orleans Saints RB Reggie Bush would swap sports, so to speak. The result is the skinny Pop Warner hopeful pictured above. And why, pray, would the MLS look to the NFL for cross-promotion? Well, aside from being the biggest, richest and most powerful league on the planet (All Hail Emperor Goodell!), it seems MLS is banking on a certain image:

"This is not necessarily going to be easy", said Chadwick. "Americans not only identify more with personalities from sports other than soccer, they also like successful, eloquent, trouble-free, clean-cut types. Beckham, therefore, faces the challenge of promoting such qualities if he is to maximize the chances of his brand being a success."

Yep. Pacman Jones, Nate Newsom, Rae Carruth, the entire Cincinnati Bengals practice roster. Successful, eloquent, trouble-free, clean-cut types, to a man. Totally. This should work out great.

Beckham faces challenge to maximize brand in U.S. [Ottawa Citizen]

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