Red Bulls, New York Gear Up For Return Of Beckham

Red Bulls ad touting the arrival of David Beckham.July 15, 2009: It is perhaps fitting that the first game of David Beckham's 2009 Major League Soccer season will be played in New York, or at least across the river in Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. Beckham received a good reception on July 11 during his first public appearance this season as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy, when he support Footprint Fields, a program from adidas, Fieldturf and MLS that will develop soccer fields in urban communities. But it was a mere shot in the dark compared to his Hollywood-style arrival in 2007, when more than 700 media credentials were issued and Beckham and his wife, Victoria, attended parties alongside the likes of Tom Cruise and Will Smith.

In New York, where the Galaxy will play the New York Red Bulls on July 16 (Fox Soccer Channel), the media exposure will be far greater, if for nothing else than Beckham has been making news due to the just-released book, The Beckham Experiment, which details the $250 million, five-year deal he signed with Los Angeles and subsequent ramifications. He hit New York on July 15, a day ahead of the game, which gave him time to appear on such shows as The Today Show (NBC) and Live with Regis and Kelly (ABC). In 2007, Beckham's appearance at Giants Stadium drew more than 66,000 fans, about three times the team's average. Even half that would be a boost for the Red Bulls, which come in with a 2-13-4 mark, worst in the league. The Galaxy are on a roll, with three consecutive wins and back in the playoff hunt with a 5-3-9 overall record.

Beckham's value as a marketing spokesman in the U.S. has taken a hit since 2007, having parted ways with Pepsi and Gillette. But he remains a global icon, starring in recent campaigns from Motorola and Emporio Armani. The Red Bulls have been supporting Beckham's arrival on their Web site with an ad that also touted Galaxy and U.S. national team member Landon Donovan, who made news with comments from The Beckham Experiment that Beckham was not a loyal teammate. (The two have since settled their differences, creating more off-field headlines.)

"We are talking about an iconic player, arguably the most recognizable athlete on the planer," David Wright, vp-partnership marketing for MLS and Soccer United Marketing (the marketing arm of MLS), said in recent interview with NYSportsJournalism. "However, we also have to recognize that he is one of more than 300 players in our league. I think everyone agrees that David Beckham's time with MLS has given us a push from an on-field performance standpoint. Also what he has been able to give back to the Los Angeles Galaxy community and to the national game is fantastic. We give him a lot of credit for bringing more media attention to the league."

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Beckham Gets Lead Role In Global Motorola Campaign

Q&A: David Wright, SVP-Partnership Marketing for Major League Soccer

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