Opinion: Perspective - Will Brand Beckham survive infidelity allegations?

It's hard to stay objective about the long-term future of Brand Beckham which now seeks to prove to the world via fixed smiles, over-the-top displays of affection and photo opportunities on the French ski slopes that all's well.

The problem about remaining dispassionate is that you can't ignore the fact that morality and marketing are inextricably linked in this case.

Quite right too. Marketers and advertisers must always operate within publicly acceptable limits or suffer the consequences.

And Brand Beckham is showing its limitations.

If David Beckham is proved to have been a serial philanderer, his behaviour will be deemed repugnant by millions of consumers. Not that there's likely to be a huge public sympathy vote for Mrs B, whose penchant for PR is seen as far outstripping any of her other talents.

Maybe Brand Beckham was always too good to be true. At one time it seemed like the perfect fusion of showbiz and sport - a Spice Girl and one of the most gifted footballers of modern times. What's more, he was a player who seemingly eschewed the sybaritic indulgences of many of his contemporaries.

Here was a style-conscious idol of the terraces who was also a devoted father and the husband of a pop star. The success of Brand Beckham lay in its sheer versatility. Beckham was just as credible promoting his branded line of children's clothing for Marks & Spencer as he was as a cool fashion icon advertising Police sunglasses.

Advertisers could also draw comfort in the knowledge that Brand Beckham had already proved its robustness. Few expected the England international to reclaim his popularity after petulantly lashing out at an Argentine player in the 1998 World Cup, earning him a red card and turning him into a national pariah. But he did.

Beckham hasn't always seemed like the sharpest tool in the box. But his instinct for leading-edge style has proved as uncannily accurate as his free kicks. Never before has there been a regular bloke who could convince other blokes that it was OK to take an interest in fashion and grooming without fear of being derided as a poof by your mates.

To what extent the current allegations will damage Brand Beckham is a moot point.

Despite a recent dip in form at Real Madrid, Beckham's skills on the field have never been questioned, a fact that will certainly provoke sighs of relief at Adidas.

Nor is persistent adultery, however distasteful some might find it, a crime. Indeed, Beckham's new notoriety could make him even more interesting to certain advertisers.

Nevertheless, Brand Beckham does face significant problems in regaining control of its destiny. One is the probable effect on Beckham's reputation in the US.

Football, perceived across the Atlantic as a TV-unfriendly, low-scoring game, still fails to gain the momentum on which Beckham could capitalise.

Moreover, Americans continue to be prissy about matters sexual.

The other problem is Victoria. Is she a brand asset or a liability? Assuming the marriage avoids the rocks, her continued role as Mrs Beckham may provide incremental brand value in some categories.

What's certain is that life at football's highest levels is short and, at 28, Beckham's time is limited. As the years pass, Posh and Becks may conclude not only that they deserve each other but are mutually dependent when it comes to preserving their commercial appeal.

- Caroline Marshall is away.

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