Bose vs Beats: The Latest NFL Brand War

What NFL players wrap around their heads when they give television interviews is the subject of the latest brand war to hit the sporting world.

Premium audio company BOSE has signed a league sponsorship deal with the NFL according to the terms of which Bose has the right to prevent players and coaches from wearing any other manufacturers’ headphones during televised interviews. This ban extends to TV interviews conducted during pre-season training camps or practice sessions, to game day, pre-kickoff to the final whistle to post-game interviews conducted in the locker room or on the podium.

The brand that this deal aims to block is none other than Beats, may be because of this hugely successful Super Bowl ad.

Beats by Dre (Apple owned) is endorsed by several NFL superstars who wear their noise cancelling headphones during pre-match training and post-match interviews. Product placement and a hefty marketing budget has earned Beats a market share of over 60% in US’s premium headphones marketplace. Bose currently has 22%.

Q: Does this have anything to do with Bose’s lawsuit with Beats over the noise cancelling technology used in Beats’ headphones? May be, not entirely. Bose considers this an important marketing investment.

Your move Beats!

We’ve seen this before

Sony kept its rivals off the pitch this summer, during the month-long World Cup soccer tournament. FIFA informed all 32 competing countries that Beats products were banned during media briefings and on match days.

That didn’t stop Neymar, did it?

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Beats could do a Nike

While the chances to do so are much more limited, like Neymar, Beats could even go the Nike or Adidas way. Mario Gotze, who has an endorsement deal with Nike, wore a Nike t-shirt at his first press conference at his new club Bayern Munich, even though it is the Adidas logo that adorns the Bundesliga Champions’ jerseys.

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Nike got a taste of their own medicine when Adidas’ Ivan Rakitic did a Gotze at Barcelona.

Coke vs Pepsi: The IPL Story

When the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League (IPL) became available again, Pepsi lapped it up for Rs.400 Crores. But that didn’t stop fierce rivals Coca-Cola from taking them on.

Coke freely distributed their bottles without labels at several kiosks setup outside stadiums, inside which spectators had to pay Rs 50 for a 300 ml Pepsi bottle. It doesn’t get more ambush than this, does it?

While Bose’s deal covers all of the NFL, Coca Cola latched on to a loophole in the IPL title sponsorship contracts and signed up Mumbai Indians, the IPL team with the biggest cricketing brand in the world Sachin Tendulkar. That deal earned them exclusive rights to sell Coke at their home stadium.

And, guess who won the tournament.

CLT20 Final - Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians

Coke vs Pepsi: The FIFA World Cup Story

The roles were reversed between these two legendary warring brands when it came to the FIFA World Cup 2014.

As official partners of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Coca Cola released this beautifully shot and emotionally moving advertisement.

To counter this, Pepsi released an ad with Messi and van Persie shot in Rio de Janeiro, thereby creating an illusion that they are more associated with the world cup than Coke.

The Bose vs Beats is not the first brand war over athletes. Nor will this be the last. But this one has set the marker for how brand wars over athletes and their fans are fought over the next couple of years.

Watch this space for more.

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