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Consumer Corner: Spin it like Beckham

Consumer - Beckham
By Ciara McCrory
10 October 2023
Consumer Industries
Consumer Campaigns & B2B
Corporate Reputation

When Netflix released hit show Making a Murderer, the streaming service firmly established itself as the home of the true-crime documentary.

Nearly a decade on and the company is trying its hand at documentaries with more glitz and glamour as consumers seek out a strong dose of escapism.

This week was the turn of the Beckhams with a new four-part Netflix documentary, charting the rise and rise of the footballer turned family man.

But what makes a high-profile celebrity decide to put themselves under the microscope?

Did the Beckhams watch the Harry and Meghan documentary and think they could do the same?

Is this an attempt by the power couple to help everyone forget how David took cash from the Qataris at the last World Cup much to the dismay of the LGBTQIA+ community, including comedian Joe Lycett?

Or is this a renewed effort by the former England captain to get a gong, having previously branded the honours committee “unappreciative ****s” for not granting him a knighthood in the past?

The Netflix documentary touches on his low-points: heated arguments with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, controversy surrounding alleged affairs (which Beckham denies), the difficulty of raising four kids in the public eye and mental health struggles.

And whilst it doesn’t provide the lurid detail many people wished for, allowing the pair to tell their version of the truth is a valuable asset, carefully calculated by PR teams aiming to reignite the public’s love for David and Victoria.

With changes to the personal comms teams in the last 12 months for both David and Victoria, it seems as though the Netflix release is the first move by the new advisors to audit their public profiles whilst retaining full control of the narrative.

Whether you’re team Beckham or you’re still angry about that red card, their story is a fascinating one for comms specialists and something we can see evolving in real time.

Other broadcasters would be unlikely to offer the same level of editorial control Netflix seemingly gives to its subjects, and this could see the streaming business attract top celebrities who may also want to tell their story in a highly polished way.

The Beckhams in their heyday were always trendsetters with selling their personal brand and I would not be surprised if this documentary leads to brand partnerships and greater exposure to a non-footballing audience.

The question is – will their latest move into documentaries start a trend of other celebrities following suit, or will it lead to a backlash from viewers who don’t want their streaming service turning into the pages of Hello! magazine?

Either way, the route to engagement is changing and others looking to raise their profiles would do well to think of avenues beyond the traditional outlets of the past.