It seems that the British Olympic Team is not the biggest fans of the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones as it took the step of banning its athletes from wearing them late last week.
Apparently the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones have been popular at the Olympics this year as you’ve barely been able to turn on an event on television without seeing the “b” logo pop-up. While you would think that perhaps the athletes were paid for this endorsement, it turns out it was just some smart marketing on the part of the company.
When the participants of the London 2012 games arrived in the city, boxes of the Beats headphones were delivered to the hotels and Olympic Village with the headphones inside. While some were the plain white models, others sported the colors and flags of the respective countries, and what patriotic athlete could resist wearing those?
The British Olympic team in particular were quite taken with the models adorned with the Union Flag, and soccer player Jack Butland even tweeted his enthusiasm for the brand.
That was where the trouble began as Beats didn’t pay for the product placement, instead, the British team has a sponsorship deal with Panasonic. According to the International Olympic Committee’s Rule 40, no athlete may endorse a product they have a personal sponsorship with while at the games on or off the field, and that includes social media. The use of the Beats headphones would actually fall under this rule, and could even lead to the expulsion of a team member should the violation be found to be egregious enough.
On Thursday the British team banned the use of the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones until after the games, but did say that they could use ones made by Panasonic while there should the team members need to listen to anything while in public.
A tip of the hat to Beats for coming up with the Guerilla style marketing. For the cost of manufacturing several thousands pairs of earphones, a global audience has seen the brand. Even if the British did ban them, at least we’re still talking about them.