Commentary

Giant, Half-Naked Beckham Stalks England

It’s either a dream come true or a nightmare, depending on your feelings about David Beckham in his skivvies. This week huge images of the soccer player modeling underwear were stalking England’s green and pleasant land, thanks to a spectacular digital out-of-home promotion that saw them projected onto the famous white chalk Cliffs of Dover.

The images, showing Beckham in boxers, briefs, and boxer-briefs from his new “Bodywear” underwear line at H&M, were several hundred feet tall and clearly visible to airplane passengers arriving in England, and supposedly even across the English Channel in France. The Sun tabloid cleverly redubbed the national landmark the “tighty white cliffs of Dover.”

Although some naysayers complained that the stunt was “offensive” and even “irresponsible” -- perhaps for distracting pilots? -- the overall response in British social media and the press seems to have been predictably positive in all the right demos. No reaction yet from the Queen; I can only hope it’s something along the lines of “We are amused, and slightly titillated.”

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The real achievement, of course, is in the technical details: the rough, craggy faces of the Dover cliffs are far from an ideal projection surface, which doubtless required some 3D fine-tuning to make the images cohere. There’s also the issue of where the images are projected from: in the images circulated on the Web, it appears as if the projectors were located on boats or barges stationed just offshore, which in turn raises the questions of power supply and platform stability in the sometimes-choppy English Channel.

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