May 16, 2013 at 07:55 PM
written by Adam Grossman

The Bank Of Beckham Should Remain Open For Endorsement Deposits

David Beckham’s ability to bend the ball into the goal from seemingly all parts of a soccer field helped to earn him spots on many of soccer’s top clubs around the world including Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Los Angeles Galaxy.

Yet, Beckham will seemingly always be known more for his pitches off the field rather than his work on the pitch. In addition to being married to Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice), Beckham has been one of the sports industry’s most famous pitchman. His endorsements / corporate partnerships have included Adidas, Burger King, Samsung, and H & M. Articles in publications ranging The New York Times to The Daily Mail have focused on as much on his “savvy marketing” and “dashing good looks” as his ability as a soccer player in announcing his retirement. This combination helped Beckham earned $37 million in endorsements in 2012 according to Forbes.

With Beckham’s soccer career over, however, it would be easy to assume that his endorsement deals would end as well. After all, why would brands want to associate with a soccer player who no longer plays soccer?

Beckham (and his marketing / PR team) may have recognized that he may be more valuable retiring from soccer as he is as an active player. Retired athletes are some of the biggest endorsers in the sports industry. Not only do they often outpace current active athletes in lucrative corporate sponsorships but also they often make more endorsement dollars than when they were active players.

The most famous examples of this practice occurred in basketball and golf. Michael Jordan earned more in endorsements in 2011 ($60 million) than he ever did has a player ($50 million). Charles Barkley earns millions today via his endorsements for Capital One and Weight Watchers. In Golf Digest’s Top 50 Earners of 2012, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson secured the top two spots by each earning over $38 million from endorsements. The rest of the top-five golf earners in 2012 were Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Greg Norman. The one thing these golfers have in common is that they have mostly retired from professional golf and they each earned over $22.75 million in “off course” income. Palmer topped the list with $36 million dollars in “off course” income while having $0 in “on course” income. In addition, their endorsement income in 2012 was larger than the amount of money that these players earned in their entire playing careers. Beckham’s future endorsement success is not a foregone conclusion. There are certainly a number of athletes who had large decline in endorsements following the end of their playing career.

Yet, Beckham’s endorsement income has already remained relatively constant even with the decline of his soccer skills. While still considered by many to be solid on-field contributor, Beckham has longed since failed to be an elite soccer player on the world’s stage. His brand has long been built on his ability to engage and connect with the fans and media using his looks, charisma, and charm. “Brand Beckham” flourished because playing soccer was only one component of this identity. It is the reason that people today are asking questions such as “What was better: Brand Beckham…or the player?”. If there were ever a player poised to score big paychecks in retirement it is Beckham.

Earning millions in endorsements as an athlete when one is no longer playing a sport is good work if you can get it. David Beckham should be able to get this type of good work.