February 7th, 2016

Penned by Chief Strategy Officer Dave Corelli.
Follow Dave on Twitter and on Medium.

In a few hours, we will soon know whether Peyton Manning caps off his career in dream like fashion, or if Cam Newton answers all the hype and delivers on a dream season.

For now, let’s flash back to October 2014. With Bose becoming the official partner of the NFL, the League responds by banning players from wearing competing headsets during broadcasts- primarily Beats by Dre.

I don’t know how much each of these brands internally views the other as the enemy. It sure looks and feels like a war. Bose, the corporate-feeling, performance-driven brand, crisp and clean image attaching itself to the League, looking to grab that coveted younger demographic. Beats, the vibrant, bold and raw brand that doesn’t need the League because the players already choose them.

Who’s winning? Only the true business metrics could tell us. But from the standpoint of their campaigns, Beats is still on top, in spite of - or likely even more so fuelled by - the NFL’s ban.

Here is a sample of the Bose campaign, leveraging Russell Wilson and Macklemore. They also recently launched #LetsHearIt, as a Super Bowl activation which turns fans tweets into live music performances.

Russell Wilson Commercial:

#LetsHearIt Campaign:

Meanwhile, Beats has launched two videos in the last two NFL Playoff weekends, leveraging the controversial, in the spotlight, Cam Newton.

NFC Championship Weekend:

Super Bowl Weekend:

The Bose + Russell Wilson spot has 1.6 million views since October 2015 - an average of 400k per month. The Beats + Cam Newton spot from NFC Championship, 2.5 million views in just 2 weeks - equating to 5 million per month.

Both campaigns have the same recipe. Top athletes as ambassadors. Music as a synergy with sport. Tapping in to emotion. 

So why does the Beats campaign have you nodding your head “yes” whereas the Bose campaign has you rationally acknowledging that they are a sponsor of the NFL. 

The Bose spots are funny, entertaining - but still feel corporate. They have to be safe and appealing to the 50 year old and the 20-something. They are the by-product of a boardroom conversation that settled on a “safe” option. They are likely not working on that 20-something. Maybe it works on the older generation? Nope, took me 5 minutes to explain the Wilson/Macklemore spot to my dad.

The Beats spot embodies who we expect the brand to be. Newton couldn’t be a better fit. Unapologetically who they are. No need to appeal to the baby boomer. And the recipe of the Beats spot creates impact - the Newton voice over, the production value, the music track you haven’t heard yet but instantly love.

I struggle not to use the word authentic, because it’s so overused. However, you can’t help but get the feeling that Bose is trying to create something whereas Beats is speaking from a place they have the right to be in.

The takeaway to me is that we have such a huge opportunity for people to grab on to our brand and make it bigger than we could ever be. That can also be a curse - if we aren’t true to what people believe we are, we are called out.

It’s hard work to nail it - but it’s so, so worth it.

Happy Super Sunday. Until next week.

/ Corelli

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Dave Corelli is Chief Strategy Officer of SportBox Group, a global entertainment agency with verticals in strategic consulting, personality representation, and event creation and ownership. Corelli oversees business and creative strategy globally for the agency, its consulting clients, athletes and events. Follow Dave on Twitter and on Medium.