Say you’re promoting a “premium” product with minimal production costs and you want to heighten its appeal to a certain target audience. What do you do? First you label it “premium” or “exclusive”. Then you slap a barely-related celebrity’s name on it and jack up its price well beyond reason. Score!

The latest industry overcome by celebrity endorsement deals is audio equipment. Headphones appear to be the new sneakers–when the $300 Beats by Dre model debuted a couple of years ago, they were the earwear equivalent of Nike Air Jordans. The first question to ask someone wearing Beats by Dre was either “When’s your album coming out?” or “How can I get tickets to the release party?”

Once marketers realized how profitable this racket can be, everyone and his brother (and his brother’s nephew, who appeared on one episode of some reality show) jumped aboard the C-list headphone train. Are they better than iPod earbuds? Do they offer deeper bass and crisper high-end sounds for compressed, low-quality mp3s? Sure–but this is more than a little ridiculous.

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