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Burberry's new face: Romeo trends it like Beckham

By Jim Boulden, CNN
December 18, 2012 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
  • David Beckham's son Romeo, 10, stars in Burberry's 2013 Spring campaign
  • Burberry is looking to China as it continues to upgrade its brand, writes Boulden
  • Like Mini or Jaguar, Burberry has sought to reinvent itself while retaining a distinctly British image

Editor's note: Jim Boulden is a correspondent for CNN's international programming based in London, where he covers a wide range of business and news stories. Follow him on Twitter.

London (CNN) -- So Brand Beckham now moves to the next generation.

One of the Beckham juniors, 10-year-old Romeo, is appearing in the Burberry Spring 2013 campaign. He's in a raincoat, of course, featuring in the brand's typical threads.

Burberry has lately been putting non-models in their campaigns, using well-known British people to underscore the that Brand Burberry is British. Emma Watson, of Harry Potter fame, had the spotlight in 2011.

Romeo is a clever hook.

Did Beckham project succeed in U.S.?

He already is one of the most photographed children in the world. His parents have not shied away from showing the boys off at Lakers' basketball games, or just walking through airports. Just last week they were in front of a West End theater for the launch of the Spice Girls musical (no comment).

So two British brands now merge, though I suspect it has more to do with Asia than London.

More: L.A. Galaxy wins again in Beckham's last U.S. game

David Beckham's last U.S. game

David Beckham is of course a global icon, just like Burberry. China is the main thrust for Burberry as it continues to upgrade its image and its stores and its prices to be a bigger luxury brand ---most others remain niche.

Burberry stores are getting bigger while the company continues to buy out former joint venture partners in order to take full control of the brand in every country in which it operates.

Chanel president: Brand value is key

It was interesting a few months ago when Burberry lowered expectations for 2012 on the back of a slowdown in China and the shares dropped like a stone. So, having a recognizable face (or at least a recognizable name) in Asia should be a plus, come spring.

End it like Beckham

Not least because Burberry does children's clothing. I can remember interviewing Christopher Bailey, the creative director, a few years ago at Burberry's new headquarters. We walked through the children's section and that's when I realized they dressed well-off children as well. I had no idea (none of my three have worn a stitch of Burberry). So, Romeo hits the nail on the head in multiple ways.

Hasn't Burberry come a long way? A decade ago the Burberry check pattern was used by teenagers (and I'm told some soccer hooligans) as a "chav" look, a trend where people who could not afford a label would wear a knock-off version. Burberry fought back, cracking down on knock-offs while moving the brand even more upscale.

Largely it's worked. Like Mini or Jaguar, Burberry has been reborn but remains proudly British. Looks like Brand Beckham is doing the same.

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