Though they’ve become ubiquitous around the necks and ears of athletes worldwide, you won’t be seeing any Beats headphones at the FIFA World Cup. Due to a licensing partnership with Sony, the football governing body have banned players from wearing them during matches and media events.
As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, while players are still permitted to wear them outside of official FIFA events — Brazilian star Neymar was spotted with a pair as he stepped off the bus to attend the squad’s last training session before their Mexico clash — players from all 32 teams competing this year must remove Dr Dre‘s high-end audio wear once inside an official venue.
But marketing experts say the ban enhances Beats’ appeal. “When fans see World Cup athletes wearing Beats in their downtime, by choice, it has as much impact as seeing them lace their Adidas or sip a sponsored beverage,” said Ellen Petry Leanse, a former Apple and Google executive.
“Maybe more, actually – Beats isn’t a sponsor, so the message is more authentic and credible,” she adds. The company, which was recently acquired by Apple for US$3 billion, is known for its aggressive “guerrilla marketing,” sending out free headphones to athletes at the 2012 Olympics.
Sony has likewise issued free headphones to all players participating in the 2014 World Cup, but so far few players have been seen sporting them around their necks. Just days before the Cup, Beats released a five-minute ad featuring the likes of Neymar, Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie, and more.
Watch: Beats By Dre | The Game Before The Game