After sitting for more than 50 hours of filmed interviews that rattled through their 26 years together, David and Victoria Beckham were understandably anxious about how people would react to their Netflix documentary series Beckham. They had never bared their souls in this way before and they knew it was a huge gamble. But a few months on, it’s clear that their spin of the roulette wheel is paying off big time – and in many unexpected ways.
Not only did the four-part series thrill their die-hard fans, it also won over the hate-watchers. Many sceptics tuned in to scoff, but were left charmed by the tale of David and Victoria’s early romance; the humour and tight bonds they share with their four children and the flashes of vulnerability that they revealed. Carefully curated and told, of course, but it was the couple’s unexpected warmth that ultimately won millions over.
David was recast as a premiere flight footballer turned perfectionist homebody who spends his days tending to his bees, meticulously organising his wardrobes and cooking family meals. Victoria was portrayed as a quick-witted, self-deprecating and loyal partner. Her icy demeanour was replaced by an easy laughter, fully in on the joke.
She also elicited sympathy as she recalled how difficult it was to raise a family when David’s football career meant they were constantly moving countries. The cool fashion commentator and author Amy Odell described her as “the true star” of the show.
None of this re-positioning – nor the brushing over of David’s alleged indiscretions – was an accident. Beckham - which Netflix reportedly paid £16million for – was made by David’s production company Studio 99. The series was produced by Nicola Howson, a director of the Beckhams’ many businesses, and its executive producers were David’s best mates David Gardner and Gary Neville.
But while the Beckhams enjoyed editorial control, they could never have predicted how well it went down. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Victoria revealed that she found it all “quite liberating”. Viewers have stopped her in the street to praise the show and some have even left notes on her car windscreen saying sorry for judging them so harshly in the past.
It has given the couple a new confidence. Intimate family moments that were once saved for occasional glossy spreads in OK! and Hello! magazines are now posted almost daily on TikTok and Instagram. A family holiday to the Bahamas was filmed and edited into a slick highlights video that gave glimpses of the family dancing on the beach, enjoying BBQs and playing keepy-uppy.
Celebrations are now regularly milked for content; Christmas at theirOxfordshire home and family dinners in fancy London restaurants. David showed off his hen house and chickens (a gift from Victoria) and in an unexpected twist, Victoria has developed a penchant for posting David Beckham “thirst traps” – images designed to sexually thrill. The first showed Becks splayed on the floor wearing only a pair of tight, white boxers as he attempted to fix a TV. Liked nearly 1.5 million times, this was quickly followed by a video of David thrusting at the gym where she referred to him as a “love machine”.
Victoria is also enthusiastically turning the camera on herself. In just the last few weeks, she’s revealed her make-up-free face, shared her skincare routines and took us inside her bedroom and gym. Meanwhile, David and their sons Brooklyn and Cruz publically battled on Instagram over who could do the most dumbbell push-ups. A shirtless Becks said he’d done 1,000 before the boys posted a video claiming they had topped that.
This new more-is-more approach has led to speculation that they are in the process of a relaunch. Marketing guru James Kirkham thinks that by capitalising on their new-found relevance, they can expand their appeal to a new audience. Kirkham says: “Their brand is all the more robust because they showed their human and vulnerable side on the show, so now they’re doubling down on it.”
This shift in strategy also makes savvy business sense – it’s a move that could make them some serious money. Through direct access on social media, they have full control and are able to market to a bigger audience directly, raking in money from platforms and sponsors as they do so.
It’s a trick the Kardashians mastered long ago. Kim Kardashian, who’s built her social presence over decades, can reportedly earn over $1m, or £787,000, per branded post on Instagram. With over 360 million followers, she’s way ahead of David who has 86.7 million followers and Victoria with 32.6 million, but it is proof of how big the opportunity is.
Their plan is already paying off. Victoria and David’s starring role in this weekend’s Super Bowl commercial with Jennifer Aniston was teased first on, you guessed it, Instagram.
In the ad David and Victoria parody the viral scene from Beckham where David calls out Victoria’s claims that she was working class by forcing her to reveal that she was driven to school in a Rolls-Royce. And global audience of over 130 million and counting will be exposed to the full commercial and the Beckhams were likely to have been paid over £1million for both the Instagram post and the TV ad.
Growing their audience will also help future-proof the whole family. David and Victoria’s eldest son Brooklyn’s main revenue source is paid partnerships with brands like Stuart Weitzman, Uber Eats and Dunkin’ Donuts, who pay to be featured on his Instagram feed. With over 16 million followers, he can charge thousands for each collaboration. Budding footballer Romeo, 21, is sponsored by Puma and as part of his deal posts pictures of himself in their gear to his four million followers. The Beckhams’ youngest son Cruz, 18, and their daughter Harper, 12, haven’t dipped their toes into social media sponsorships yet, but by regularly appearing on their parents’ feed, it is only a matter of time before they have spin-off brand deals of their own.
Kirkham, the founder and CEO of creative agency ICONIC, adds: “Brand Beckham understands that the amplification of their everyday life will only bring more attention to their enterprises, making their children’s endeavours more successful as a result.”
This full-throated embrace of social media is happening as their real-life businesses are riding high financially too. Company figures released at the end of last year revealed that David’s network of businesses made a profit of £21.9m from revenues of £72.6m. His company DRJB Holdings Limited even boasted about their social media growth in a strategic report. “During 2022, the group's valuable social media channels continued to grow in new regions and demographics,” it said.
David’s investment in the football club Inter Miami is proving to be particularly shrewd after Lionel Messi shocked the world by joining the squad and subsequently boosted ticket and shirt sales. Other filings also showed that the highest-paid director of DB Ventures took home a £10m salary in 2022. David is one of three employees who could have had a bumper payday.
Victoria too has had reason to celebrate after her fashion brand finally turned a profit since launching 15 years ago. Her company VBHL reported that revenues rose 44 per cent to over £58m last year, up from £41m in 2021. Bumper sales of her chain pouch leather clutch bags, which start at £650, and the Victoria Beckham Beauty (VBB) £30 eyeliners and £35 contour stylus sticks are what reversed the brand’s fortunes according to reports. The booming VBB make-up range reflects Victoria’s efforts in promoting them doggedly on social media.
An accounting expert who’s reviewed the Beckhams’ public filings thinks there is more good news for them to come as “their accounts go up to the end of 2022, so they don’t reflect the success they’ve enjoyed in 2023 or the effect the Netflix show had on their fortunes”. He added: “It’s possible Victoria could see revenues top £100m, and David could possibly double his profits to £40m following his many brand partnerships.”
With luxurious homes in Miami, Oxfordshire and Holland Park and London, The Sunday Times reported that the Beckhams’ net worth was £425m, up from £400m in 2022. But, it’s likely they feel like a minnow in comparison to their daughter-in-law’s family. Nicola Peltz Beckham is the daughter of billionaire investor Nelson Peltz and married Brooklyn on her father’s £81m estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
So what will get the Beckhams to the billionaires’ table? A fast option would be to create another Netflix show – a reality TV series following the playbook of the Kardashians and the Osbournes before them. This would enhance their bank balances and set their kids up for success too – the Kardashian family is now worth more than £1.6bn.
A Netflix insider told us: “A show that focuses on the Beckhams’ family life has been raised, but it’s too early to say if it will become a reality. The negotiations on these deals can take months, but a Kardashian-style show about the family would be huge. Audiences would love it.” He added: “Whatever David’s production company pitches is likely to be snapped up right now because he has proved that Studio 99 can make really compelling television.”
We will know soon enough what the Beckhams decide to do with their new and expanding audiences as they’ll be sure to splash it all over social media. Until then, enjoy the thirst traps.
Rachel Richardson writes the trends newsletter highly flammable on Substack