SBD/December 6, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Adidas Endorser David Beckham Could Be Forced To Wear Swoosh If He Signs With PSG

Beckham has not been on a soccer field in anything other than adidas gear since '97
French soccer team Paris Saint-Germain reportedly is willing to pay David Beckham $18M to sign with the team, and it is "not just what Beckham can do on the field that attracts the Paris club, among others, but what Brand Beckham can do off it," according to Graham Ruthven of the N.Y. TIMES. However, for a player as "commercially aware as Beckham, there is one factor that could damage the very brand that attracted PSG to his services in the first place." Beckham has been sponsored by adidas since '97 and "since leaving Manchester United eight years ago ... Beckham has not been seen on a soccer field in anything other than Adidas gear." But PSG "plays in Nike jerseys." Ruthven asked, "How would Adidas feel about having its flagship star playing in the logo of its biggest rival?" Current regulations would "force Beckham and Adidas to tolerate the arrangement." Ruthven asked, "Why couldn’t Beckham play in PSG colors, but with his own corporate sponsor on his jersey?" Image rights are "already a growing element of player contracts with Europe’s elite clubs." If endorsement deals "continue to grow, some worry that multinational corporations will begin to dictate where players go, acting almost as an agency." The bigger issue is that "permitting players to accessorize their jerseys with personal sponsors ... could be the ultimate victory for player power and commercialism." The NBA has "done exactly that." Game jerseys worn by players "do not feature any visible sponsor or apparel manufacturer’s logo, although much merchandise sold commercially does." That is how Heat F LeBron James can "sign an endorsement deal with Nike reported to be worth about $120 million" (NYTIMES.com, 12/5).
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