TWO FOR TUESDAY: BEATS KICKED FROM WORLD CUP

Apple will be watching the World Cup from the bench due to a disheartening red card thanks to some unsportsmanlike conduct from Beats Headphones.

 

 

 

Apple’s recent $3 billion acquisition of Beats Headphones from rapper Dr. Dre is not new to the market. The brand initially skyrocketed into popularity around the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing when Dr. Dre’s staff gifted a pair to basketball star LeBron James. In return, James shared them with fellow members of Team USA, who then sported them religiously off the court and around the media. This guerrilla marketing strategy boosted Beats into the international spotlight. This Two for Tuesday, let’s take a look a two other Beats campaigns that have stirred up controversy on the international stage.

World Cup 2014:

The brand hit a slight speed bump at the FIFA World Cup this year as FIFA has banned Beats headphones from all matches. Beats blatant infringement on the official sponsors of the World Cup, such as tech company Sony, resulted in the ban. The issue is one that we have seen a few times before and should not come as a shock, considering how the Beats brand is becoming notorious for seamlessly executing guerrilla and ambush marketing initiatives into a handful of the world’s most exclusive markets.

Athletes are “required” to represent the official sponsors of the World Cup and their brands while they are in World Cup facilities; subsequently athletes are able to “rep” whatever brands they wish during their downtime, and by default, Beats headphones are seen almost everywhere.

“When fans see World Cup athletes wearing Beats in their downtime, by choice, it has as much impact as seeing them lace their Adidas or sip a sponsored beverage,” said strategist Ellen Petry Leanse, a former Apple and Google executive in an interview with Reuters.

Sony, an official sponsor of the World Cup, attempted to combat Beats by providing athletes with complementary Sony headphones, yet these have rarely been seen around the necks of contestants.

London 2012:

During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, Dr. Dre shed new light on these controversial marketing strategies by distributing his headphones to premier athletes at the summer Games. The list of athletes covered the board from America’s gold medalist Michael Phelps to most of Team Great Britain; boasting custom designed headphones branded with the Union Jack flag colors.

Companies involved with this issue will be deliberating in courtrooms for years, but has anyone asked what the athletes desire?

Until recently, this discussion hasn’t gained much traction, but many athletes are outraged by restrictions made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as it concerns how they can promote or even discuss their personal/individual sponsors. Team USA’s 400m runner, Sanya Richards-Ross, addressed how the IOC’s rule #40 severely restricts Olympic athletes’ freedom of speech on social media; specifically concerning posts regarding sponsors and or sponsors brands. Watch Sanya Richards-Ross comments here.

 

Cover Photo Source: Mitch Gunn / Shutterstock.com

Brett is an Account Services Junior Executive at SJG. An Eagle Scout, he is entering his senior year, studying Marketing at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, and Brett will graduate spring 2015 with a BS in Business Administration. When he is not working in our Chicago office, he can be found golfing, camping or skiing the backcountry of the Colorado Rockies.