I’m not a fan of Beats headphones. I think they sound like rubbish. But I admire their marketing savvy. Beats is responsible for some of the best guerilla advertising we’ve seen in the last ten years.
Think back to the London Olympics. When the camera zoomed in on athletes getting psyched up for their events, did you notice how many of them were listening to music on Beats headphones? This is because Beats distributed free headphones to dozens of athletes knowing full well that the cameras pick that up. Why bother paying exorbitant IOC advertising fees when you can just sneak your logo into the events?
Premier League footballers started receiving and using Beats headphones in 2013 with great marketing success. Beats did the same thing with the World Cup–until FIFA caught on and banned players from wearing them on the sidelines. Imagine how Sony–a major global World Cup sponsor–must have felt.
And now, the NFL has figured it out. As of this week, it is forbidden for any NFL player to be seen wearing Beats on camera. The world’s most successful professional sports league isn’t about to lend its product to anyone for free. You want to be associated with the NFL? Then pay up.
Hey, Beats doesn’t own 61% of the US market for headphones selling for $100 or more by being timid.
This is the sort of thing Apple does very well. No other company manages to get as much free media coverage as they do. And didn’t they pioneer product placement of laptops in TV shows and movies?