FIFA, at the behest of corporate sponsor Sony, has ordered Beats by Dre headphones off the ears of competitors in World Cup stadiums.
Sony had paid FIFA to sponsor the tournament. They even provided their portable music players to the soccer players. But Beats by Dre had convinced, through product superiority or some other incentive, players to wear their headphones. Cameras had glimpsed such stars as England’s Wayne Rooney, Brazil’s Neymar, and Mexico’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez sporting the seventies-style headphones on the field before games and in locker rooms after them.
“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,” Ellen Petry Leanse, a former Apple bigwig, told Esteban Israel of Reuters. “Maybe more, actually–Beats isn’t a sponsor, so the message is more authentic and credible.” Sure.
Last month, Apple bought the company founded by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine for $3 billion. Shortly thereafter, the company released a YouTube video featuring various World Cup stars wearing their colorful earmuffs. Sponsoring individual players surely comes cheaper than sponsoring FIFA.
The soccer bosses demand that Rooney, Neymar, and company ditch Beats by Dre at their events. Don’t they have Hairspray’s “You Can’t Stop the Beat” on their Sony players?