Everywhere you look across the sports world, you see athletes wearing Beats headphones. Everywhere except at the World Cup in Brazil.
Due to a licensing deal with Sony, FIFA has banned Beats by Dre headphones from the pitch at the World Cup. Sony, the company with a marketing deal for the games, distributed free pairs of its own headphones. But, as Reuters notes, they don’t seem to have the same ubiquity as Beats.
Beats, which was just acquired by Apple for $3 billion, made a big impression at the London Olympics in 2012 when they sent free headphones to competing athletes, sidestepping sponsor, Panasonic. Athletes happily wore them. Since then, they’ve only become more popular.
At this point, trying to distance Beats from the World Cup is like trying to un-ring a bell. Beats are now tied to sports in the same way that an apparel company like Nike or a drink like Gatorade is.
Sports stars warming up with their favorite tunes are a common sight across athletics. And more often than not, an oversized, colorful Beats headset is strapped across their noggins. As an expert notes in that Reuters article, athletes are choosing this headset on their own, making it an even more powerful, almost word-of-mouth message. There’s definitely been some marketing in the past, but now it’s just a fact that this is the audio gear of choice.
For the World Cup, Beats actually did pull together a five-minute clip featuring some of the major names of the games. (You can check it out below.) There’s also a remixed version with Jay Z available here. The original long-form has been viewed more than 17 million times, so it’s definitely viral.
Even though they might not have the prominent presence at the World Cup that they did at the Olympics, Beats has definitely made a splash. Don’t be surprised if there are changes to the marketing rules related to these big global sports events as a result. You’re not going to get Sony – or any other company – to pay big bucks on a sponsorship only to be outshone by a company that gives away some merchandise and places an ad that becomes readily available on YouTube.
Image via @BeatsbyDre