What Beats' new NBA sponsorship means for its marketing – AdAge.com

Headphone marketer Beats by Dr. Dre counts some of the biggest names in the National Basketball Association as endorsers, including LeBron James, James Harden, Draymond Green and Ben Simmons. But if you look closely at their ads, none of the stars are shown wearing their actual NBA uniforms—because Beats competitor Harman has owned those rights since inking an NBA sponsorship in 2014.

That will change this season as Beats takes over for Harman. The NBA announced the multiyear deal today. It makes Beats the official headphone, wireless speaker and audio partner of the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League and USA Basketball beginning in October 2018. So in the next Beats ad starring James, he could very well be suited in his Los Angeles Lakers gear.

The deal means that Beats can do marketing surrounding major events like the NBA All-Star Game and the NBA Draft. Beats also plans to launch NBA team-branded headphones. Harman—which had marketed itself as the “official sound of the NBA”—had offered its own “NBA Collection” lineup of team-branded headphones that it now will no longer be able to sell nationally.

The NBA did not release financial terms of its Beats deal. The league and brand touted the sponsorship today with a video mashup showing James, Harden and other stars, shown above.

What you won’t see this season is players wearing Beats headphones in the lay-up line before games. That’s because league rules prohibit players from wearing headphones immediately before games. They can wear them at shoot-arounds well in advance of the game, or in the locker room before and after games. But players are free to wear whatever brand they want at those times. So Harman, whose brands include JBL, might still be able to steal some exposure via its individual player deals.

Beats plans

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