Beckham calls in new PR man to return focus to football

LONDON - As long-lens photographs of David Beckham appear in tabloids today, the England captain has drafted in an associate director from Ketchum to handle his PR as he bids to return the focus of his promotional activity to his footballing skills.

The move, revealed on the eve of Euro 2004, will see Simon Oliveira -- who has worked with Beckham for Ketchum clients such as Adidas and Carlsberg -- quit the agency to spend around 12 days a month in Spain, where the England captain plays for Real Madrid.

The news comes as the Football Association moved to defend Beckham's privacy after he was photographed in his underwear by photographers on his hotel balcony in Lisbon. Pictures appeared on the front page of today's Sun, among other papers.

FA lawyers have been in touch with journalists covering England's preparations for Euro 2004 warning them that use of the pictures would be considered an invasion of Beckham's privacy. The FA is also reported to have complained to the Newspaper Publishers Association.

Oliveira, who was this week in Portugal on behalf of Carlsberg, will be paid by Beckham's company Footwork and will start in August.

Beckham is promoted by CM Publicity, the agency run by Caroline McAteer, while "Beckham brand" initiatives -- PR forays involving wife Victoria -- have been run by the Simon Fuller-backed triumvirate of 19 Management, CM and Henry's House.

19 spokesman Julian Henry, also a founding partner of CM, said Oliveira's appointment was "tactical" and "about the messaging".

Henry insisted McAteer's relationship with Beckham was not strained, saying: "Caroline's long-term involvement with the Beckhams will continue."

But PRWeek understands that McAteer's involvement with Beckham will continue less regularly, via Victoria's links with 19.

Beckham's relations with the media came under intense pressure earlier this year when allegations of extramarital affairs, which Beckham slammed as "ludicrous" -- were published.

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