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Japan's 'Beckham fever': Marketing and consuming a global sport celebrity

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Chapter Summary

Sport has been an integral part of globalization. This is especially true in the case of sport celebrities. Despite overwhelming neglect by academic researchers, these sports stars have increasingly travelled the world as commodities and popular images, as much as athletic laborers. In observing the Beckham phenomenon, this chapter seeks to explore Japan’s mediated national identity under the conditions of globalization. It briefly describes the ‘Beckham Fever,’ focusing on marketing as well as consumption. In particular, the chapter addresses two types of consumption: the image of Beckham and the sign of Beckham. Sport is increasingly becoming a major global business. This is most reflected by the increasing cost of broadcast rights, which enables sport to employ media as sponsors more and more easily. Throughout, media descriptions were generally traditional, conservative and nostalgic and, as a consequence, cultural distinctions were drawn between ‘Japan’ and the ‘West’.

Keywords: global sport celebrity; globalization; Japan’s ‘Beckham Fever’; national identity



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