January 20, 2007

Across The Great Divide

I've been amused at the hullabaloo over soccer player David Beckham's extraordinary deal and especially tickled at the venom with which it's been greeted in some quarters. It's true that the football fan in me is offended at the notion that this one-trick show pony is putting himself out to stud at rates beyond the wildest dreams of some of the game's true thoroughbreds but as a marketer I can only stand back and applaud.

I believe football stepped across the touchline onto a very different playing-field whenever it first adopted the play-for-pay of professionalism and Beckham's prodigious leap to legendary status (as a brand rather than a footballer) sees him playing the rules of this newer game to perfection.

In my experience, business owners are often offended at the ability of their own lesser-talented, lesser-conscientious competitors to secure dazzling contracts or build lucrative markets. They say quite rightly that it isn't fair. But the marketplace by its nature isn't fair. As business-owners we ignore this at our peril.

If we are to succeed in business, we must play the game by the rules of the marketplace where the race isn't to the fastest or the best but to the one who most appeals to the market (the 'fairest' only in beauty-contest terms). Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, fastest, fairest and best in their own sports, understood this and have managed to charm both the amateur enthusiast and the sharp-eyed professional in us.

So which side are you on? Do you think it's possible to play-for-pay and retain corinthian values? Or, like me, do you believe that once a sport chooses to go professional then the rules of the game change forever?

No comments: