Like most American’s you probably looked forward to the Super Bowl ads. They’ve become an event within an event. Since this Sunday’s game, I’ve seen a ton of articles breaking down the best and the worst ads. But I’ve yet to see anyone talk about the real Super Bowl ad winner.
Most people loved the Samsung “Next Big Thing” ad:
Many people loved the Dodge Ram “God Made a Farmer” ad (though we have some issues with it, which we may write about later):
Almost everybody hated the new GoDaddy.com ad, and we all threw up in our mouths a little bit watching it.
Personally, I absolutely hated the Beck’s middle-aged cover of Blackstreet
But with all the big budgets, the reality is that this year’s advertising winners showed up in surprising ways. Most people already know about Oreo’s genius move to take advantage of the blackout, but I’ve seen surprisingly little about another brand that I think scored big during the big game—Beats by Dre.
As I watched the pre-game coverage, I was intrigued to see player after player warming up with custom made Beats headphones strapped to their heads. I saw a number of close-ups like these.
Turns out, from browsing the headphone maker’s Instagram, Beats by Dre had custom headphones made for each team.
And shipped them as a gift to the players.
This is genius.
It’s estimated that 108.4 million people watched the Super Bowl. Let’s assume, conservatively, that maybe a quarter of them watched pre-game coverage. That’s over 25 million eyes on custom Beats headphones as the players warmed up. And while most brands were paying $4 million for 30-second spots, Beats probably spent about $40,000 in lost profits, assuming $400 retail per set for 100 people. That number probably goes way down when looking at actual hard costs. That’s a pretty cheap endorsement deal.
It’s this kind of thinking that has made Beats a huge success story, sending Dre to the top of the hip-hop earnings chart.
Why does this type of advertising work for Beats?
1. They’ve built a lifestyle brand
Beats has done a great job building a brand that is iconic. There are tons of headphones you can get in the same price range, but none of them are as iconic. From the signature red cord to the well designed logo on the earbuds, you can recognize their product almost immediately. By wearing a pair, you make a fashion statement about who you are, what you like, and who you want to be.
2. They tell a great story
Because they’ve captured the athlete and hip hop market, seeing players on the field wearing the headphones just makes sense. Of course some of the biggest names in sports would be wearing a pair during their workouts. Nothing was forced here. It was simply an extension of their brand.
3. They make a great product
There’s something special about limited editions. With great design, the company went the extra mile to make custom headphones for each team that would stand out and create demand. I’m sure many people were thinking, “How can I get a pair of those?” On top of it all, the headphones in general are well designed, look beautiful, and sound great—all at a good price.
All of this added up to a winning combination for smart, subtle—and cheap—advertising on one of the biggest stages in the world. Well, done Beats.