Beckileaks – can brand Beckham bounce back?

By now, you have probably heard about the latest celebrity email hack, this time of the beloved Becks.

I’m a massive football fan and also a fan of David Beckham as a sportsman and role model but there is no doubt that this will raise more than a few Beckham-esque eyebrows amongst football fans and across the world, such is the reach and interest in brand Beckham.

The material is said to have been discovered from a cache of leaked emails between David Beckham and his advisers, with some publications damning it as “exposing Beckham’s attempts to use his charity work as part of a campaign for a knighthood.”

It does appear rather off-brand, in one message he branded the Honours Committee “unappreciative c***s” and dismissed lower awards, ranting: “Unless it’s a knighthood f*** off”.

The damaging dossier was obtained by the Football Leaks website.

Content was accessed from the servers of Doyen Global, the sports management firm run by PR guru Simon Oliveira, 43, over a three-year period. He was brought in to help Beckham’s PR machine during a period of strain with the British press in 2004.

There is no doubt that he has done just that. Beckham is iconic as an example of fair play and decency, a gentleman footballer cast in the Bobby Moore mould – or so they would like us all to believe.

A spokesman for Beckham has said the emails were “hacked”, “doctored” and “private” from a third-party server.

Unicef also released a statement, saying it had not seen the hacked emails and did not want to comment on them, but emphasised the good work Beckham has done with the charity.

He certainly has done a lot of good work. Is it enough to keep him in the hearts and minds of his followers, fans, sponsors and charity partners? I suspect the damage will initially be quite heavy, purely due to his massive media reach – this is front cover stuff, selling editions and clicks at a rate of knots.

However, I wonder whether there will be a degree of sympathy for him, not in the phrasing of his rants (if indeed they prove true) but with his frustration. He may not have won international honours with England or be the record cap holder (both held by Wayne Rooney as an outfield player) but I’d argue he still has more love across the globe, even in retirement.

How much love remains to be seen but hacking of emails is a worrying trend for PR professionals to keep an eye on. I suspect we have not heard the last of this. One wonders who might be next.