Neymar – bigger than Beckham?

Neymar, the 21-year-old Brazilian footballer, is a marketer’s dream.

Equally as comfortable in front of the camera as he is on a football pitch, he embodies the ideal contemporary footballer in a manner not vastly dissimilar to the retired English hero, David Beckham.

Like Beckham, Neymar’s charm and good looks are the cherries on the icing on the perfect promotional cake, so it’s little wonder that he has a fanbase that’s little short of fanatical. Think of him as football’s equivalent to Harry Styles.

As per the online endeavours of the One Direction singer, Barcelona forward Neymar uses Twitter to great effect. The popularisation of the #Toiss hashtag came as a result of him making a ‘T’ gesture during his goal celebrations, and has now culminated in the release of a range of Nike merchandise.

Other multinational corporations such as Volkswagen and Unilever recognised his appeal early, and with those companies he signed lucrative sponsorship deals.

But as Beckham has proven, investing in modern footballers is not all about the money. Of course, stakeholders primarily invest in assets to secure a return, but by associating themselves with Neymar, the corporations will invariably and invaluably benefit in cultural terms too.

Recently voted as the world’s most marketable sportsperson by SportsPro Magazine, Neymar is the poster boy for Brazil’s rapid development into an economic power. He is therefore a beacon of cultural significance, like Beckham is for England.

There is even a suggestion that the Samba star may eventually outstrip the financial rewards of Goldenballs’ off-field exploits.

Why? Because, unlike Beckham, Neymar’s arrival onto the world stage comes at a time where many economists, sports commentators, and everyday fans might suggest that football is now primarily a business rather than a sport.

Heralded by Roman Abramovich’s acquisition of Chelsea in 2003, which wasn’t intended to make a profit, we now live in an epoch where exceptionally wealthy stakeholders don’t see making money out of their investment as a matter of necessity; rather, that comes as a by-product of attaching themselves to a cultural phenomenon like Neymar.

Right now, the potential that the Brazilian superstar has is incredibly exciting for everyone. With the best years of his career still to come, the world will be treated to the continued cultivation of a talented footballer, an inevitable marketeer, and a cultural icon.

Only time will tell if he becomes an all-time great in football and a marketing tour de force like Beckham, but, for now, it looks like he’s doing very well for himself indeed.

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