Bose headphones vs. Beats headphones: how NOT to do NFL marketing

Bose headphones vs. Beats headphones: how NOT to do NFL marketingWhen you watch NFL games this season, you’ll notice all the coaches wearing headsets made by Bose. For the 2013 season, there was no headset sponsor, and for the 13 years before that, Motorola was paying $40 million per year for that right. Although the Bose sponsorship deal’s details were not disclosed, we can safely estimate Bose is paying in excess of Motorola’s amount. If an NFL season – including preseason and postseason – is about half the year, that means Bose is paying an estimated $2 million per week.

Here are the Bose headphones I own and use –

For my iPhone – Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones for Apple Devices

For working out – Bose SoundTrue In-Ear Headphones

My bose

The author’s 10+ year old Bose headphones, which he loves

Do NFL coaches influence headphones buyers?

Does this sponsorship make NFL viewers buy more Bose headphones? Who knows? How can we ever measure the efficacy of this kind of marketing? Are headphones purchasers influenced one way or another by the coaches wearing Bose headphones? Are people who don’t own headphones lining up to buy them now that they see their team’s coach using them? The NFL certainly has no problem selling ad space, so this advertising must be working for at least some companies, right?

NFL players, whether walking from the team bus to the locker rooms, or warming up on the field before the game, oftentimes listen to music on headphones. What’s become the go-to brand for these players? Beats. Originally called Beats by Dre, Apple bought the brand this year for $3 billion.

Bose headphones vs. Beats headphones

Arguably two of the top ten best-known players in the NFL (Richard Sherman & Colin Kaepernick) were recently fined $10,000 apiece for wearing Beats headphones. As part of the Bose sponsorship, the NFL is prohibiting NFL players from wearing any headphone brand aside from Bose. When the players were fined for this infraction, all the major sports news outlets wrote about it, and it’s suspected that the fine was paid on the players’ behalf by Beats. Why wouldn’t Beats want to pay the fine? Their company certainly received well in excess of $10,000 worth of advertising with the articles and accompanying pictures. One of the players (Colin Kaepernick) went as far as to wear a pair of Beats headphones in a postgame TV interview, obviously defiant.

How not to do marketing

So, if you’re keeping score at home, Bose has paid the NFL over $40 million this year (for the sponsorship) while Beats has paid the NFL $20,000 (in fines). Who has gotten the better press coverage and has the loyalty of its customers? Beats. Who looks like a bully as the result of the NFL rule enforcement? Bose. Although the NFL is the one imposing the fines, it’s on Bose’s behalf.

If you’re a potential customer of high-end headphones, would you be more apt to trust the brand paying the NFL so the coaches wear their headsets? Or would you trust the brand that has the loyalty of the players themselves?

Spencer X Smith

Spencer helps you save time through teaching digital marketing and social media strategies in plain English, after proving they actually work for himself first. He also is an instructor at the University of Wisconsin and a columnist for InBusiness.

  • This post really intrigued me. I think that anytime people’s freedom to wear what they want is infringed upon, it’s going to cause problems.
    Today we were watching a game and I asked my husband if he knew what brand of headphones were worn by the coaches. He did not and hadn’t heard about the controversy, although he is tuned into NFL news. So, for all the hoopla about this, it didn’t stir up much in our household.

    I went to the video link of Colin Kaepernick where he is wearing Beats headphones, and read the text below that he had an endorsement deal with Beats. I wondered if it was a conflict for him to be endorsing one brand while being told to wear a different brand. Hmmmm. Either way, I agree that Beats appears to come out the “winner” in this battle (although being bought by Apple for 3 billion puts them in the “big leagues”)

    I think of Bose as a “high end” classical music brand, so the idea of NFL coaches using them doesn’t quite fit for me; although being able to hear the players and the refs with all the noise around is important. For me, the point seems to be that Beats are what “cool players” use to listen to their music and Bose is targeted to those who want to hear better, especially with loud sounds around. Wonder what their marketing reps would say? This was a fun post for me to ponder. Thanks!

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