One of my favorite stories of the week came across the wires when Colin Kaepernick was fined for wearing his “Beats By Dre” headphones. We’ve been talking about a lot of heavy issues related to NFL off-field transgressions in columns and on radio and television, so a discussion about official headphones and fining players who sport the competition is laughable.
I get it. Green makes the world go ’round. How many times have you watched a professional or collegiate game and heard the phrasing “(Insert Product Here) … the official (meat, ice cream, airline, tire, backscratcher, etc.) of YOUR TEAM.”
At times, you’ll do a double-take and look for a rewind button to make sure you heard the plug correctly. In this case, we’re not talking about obscure products mentioned during pitching changes or the late stages of a blowout. No, we’re talking about the heavyweights of the lucrative headphones market, Bose and “Beats By Dre.”
Bose inked a deal to become the headphone company of record for the National Football League. As a result, Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers was fined $10,000 for sporting his “Beats By Dre” pink headphones this past weekend. (Read: Kaepernick fined 10K) So, players cannot wear their “Beats” in the workplace, be it pre-game workouts, practices and press conferences (I’m guessing the long walk to the locker room, always covered by television networks, is off-limits as well.) The league makes more money and, therefore, the players should win down the line, no?
But, there are players with their own endorsement deals, Kaepernick among them, who are getting hit by the new policy. For those that say “They make a lot of money. So what’s $10,000?” I would would counter with the notion that most players don’t like tossing cash around.
And, I would double-up with the idea that the players probably won’t need to do so. Kaepernick slow-played the idea of how the fine would be covered when pressed by the media.
“Beats By Dre” is reaping great returns from the coverage of this “controversy,” with free advertising across all radio and television mediums. The cash register sounds each and every time Kaepernick and myriad NFL players don the contraband. The executives in the advertising department at Apple are counting the dollars of free coverage and applauding.
To demonstrate how much Bose was affected by the coverage and the need to push their own branding as a partner of the $10B NFL behemoth, the company started shipping headphones en masse to NFL locker rooms at the end of the week. Bose officials are undoubtedly trying to mute the coverage and win back the visual news cycle, bowing to the fact that the iconic “Beats” logo and style trumps the “official” mention.
Of key interest to this discussion, particularly when considering the larger picture of the NFL’s trials and tribulations (as I mentioned at the start of this run), Kaepernick’s $10K fine was higher than the fine assessed Julius Thomas. Thomas’ foul was in the news at the start of the week, highlighted by Bruce Arians in his press conferences. He drew a fine of less than $9K.