David Beckham’s soccer skills have taken him all over the globe and made him fabulously wealthy (and famous) in the process—but he’s not resting on those laurels. While retired from the beautiful game, the 39-year-old is more active than ever, including working with the likes of adidas, H&M and Diageo.
His next focus is on building his brand in China, where he’s embarking on a major push to become a bigger brand than Hello Kitty—or at least bigger than his wife Victoria’s burgeoning fashion empire.
Such Beckham-branded products as sportswear, footwear, casualwear, high-tech and skincare will be headed to China this year as part of the footie star’s venture with Hong Kong-based Global Brands Group, a spin-off of Li & Fung. The licensing deal, which originated with an agreement last year, aims to create a multi-billion dollar business in China in the next five years.
“When we launch something, it most likely will be global, but China will be part of that in a big way,” Global Brands Group CEO Bruce Rockowitz told Bloomberg. “We are in the middle of finalizing everything.”
While Beckham already has lots of fans in China—he even has a Chinese tattoo—he’s keen to expand his brand awareness in the market.
Two years ago, he signed on as a global ambassador for Chinese football. Bringing him extra love in China is the fact that Beckham recently endorsed Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beckham’s words came when the International Olympic Committee toured Beijing to assess its bid.
“If any country tries to get an Olympic Games, it means their passion about hosting something very special and also really wants the world to take notice in the sport,” Beckham told China’s Xinhua news agency.
“If China is doing that for 2022, I wish them good luck, something would be incredible (for 2022 Winter Olympics), because I know how passionate the people are in this country for life and for sport, so good luck of course.”
Beckham’s mug can also be seen on billboards targeting Chinese tourists, along with his good friend (and celebrity chef) Gordon Ramsay.
The duo are featured in the “Never Settle” campaign for the Marina Bay Sands casino, which is now running in newspaper and magazine ads, as well as billboards spread all over Asia, including Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia—and of course, China.