Watching this epic Beats ad featuring several high-profile football stars, you would’ve thought that Apple’s newly-acquired headphone line was going to be a staple at this year’s World Cup, but that hasn’t been the case at all. The iconic accessory has been noticeably absent from players’ necks since the tournament began last week.
And apparently Sony is behind the anomaly. The company’s licensing agreement with FIFA, the governing body behind the World Cup, says that players can’t ‘advertise’ rival hardware at games or media events…
Neymar likes them Brazil-green. England’s Wayne Rooney, white. Luis Suarez, blue. [...] But soccer world governing body FIFA’s licensing agreement with rival electronics maker Sony Corp means players have to take them off when they are in World Cup stadiums for official matches and media events.
But according to former Apple executive and strategist Ellen Petry Leanse, the ban may actually be helping Beats’ cause. “When fans see World Cup athletes wearing Beats in their downtime, by choice, it has as much impact as seeing them lace their Adidas (boots) or sip a sponsored beverage. Maybe more, actually – Beats isn’t a sponsor, so the message is more authentic and credible.”
Beats, which was acquired by Apple last month for $3 billion, is known for using so-called ‘gorilla marketing’ tactics to skirt licensing agreements. In 2012, the company sent out thousands of free headphones to high profile athletes at the Olympic Games in London, irking sponsor Panasonic.