So the Beckham circus is upping sticks, leaving California and putting down temporary roots in Paris. And of course the world can’t get enough of it. When David Beckham moved clubs to play for LA Galaxy six years ago, many people said it was for the money. So it was again this time when news leaked out that he would be joining Paris Saint-Germain. But no, we now know that he will be giving all his £3m wages to a children’s charity in Paris.
When the world found out many cynics said it was a blunt ploy to boost his popularity. In fact Beckham would have been damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. If he’d pocketed all the dosh, people quite rightly would have said it was for the money. If he’d paid only a portion of his salary to charity many people would have said it was not enough.
What Beckham is doing is not much different from many brands who give money to charity. This is nothing new, but as a trend has been growing. In the past the main purpose of most brands was profit. Sometimes this profit was made at the cost of the employees’ well-being and even safety. Some enlightened organisations such as Cadbury, Clarks and Lever Brothers saw a wider purpose which included a deep concern for their workers and going so far as building houses and communities such as Bourneville and Port Sunlight.
This purpose beyond profit has been taken further recently as brands understand that they have responsibilities not only to shareholders and employees, but also to a wider society. To a certain extent this is about helping the community of your customers. For example the cosmetics brand Avon does a lot of work with breast cancer charities – the fit between brand and good cause is obvious. We like to associate with brands that do good things. But beyond this it also makes good sense in motivating employees. Think of The Body Shop – almost since its inception The Body Shop has aligned itself with campaigns against animal testing. Such noble ideals help employees believe that they are not just there to make money and that they are engaged in something bigger and better.
Now some brands have taken this even further and their purpose is simply to exist to do good. One Water was set up to help bring water to Africa. Money from sales of its water is channeled into bringing water to deprived areas in Africa. As the brand has grown so has its product range and it now sells products such as food, toilet tissue, plasters and much more besides. Toms Shoes is another brand set up specifically to do good. Its American founder saw children in Argentina without shoes so set up Toms with the pledge that for every pair of shoes bought another pair would be given to a needy child.
I don’t know about you, but I’m glad that brands are finding purpose beyond profit. I don’t care if you think Beckham’s donation is cynical – I think it’s magnificent and a real antidote to the self-serving greed of so many overpaid footballers. Bravo Beckham!