News & Views

Beats by Dre / #showyourcolor

by Contagious Team

Contagious speaks to James Temple, ECD at R/GA London, to get the full story on the headphone brand's rapid rise

Not only did Beats by Dre account for 80% of all premium headphone sales in the US during the 2012 holiday season but the brand reached 180 countries, an impressive feat for a relative newcomer. 

Contagious spoke to James Temple, VP and executive creative director at R/GA London, the brand's creative agency, to hear about how Beats by Dre built on its prominent (yet unofficial) presence at the Olympics. The brand provided athletes with the distinctive headphones in their country's colours, to create an elaborate integrated campaign spanning social media, retail, and experiential, with live events in New York, London, Moscow and Hong Kong, building to a TV commercial that will launch in the UK next week.

Temple explained how the campaign started with a desire to champion self-expression as the brand focused on a potential audience with a passion for music, keen to showcase their individuality. He said: 'We kicked the campaign off at the Olympics, where it could spread from athletes to consumers. Photobooths captured the athletes showing their colour, showing off what makes them unique. From there consumers had a chance to get involved at the same level. The photobooths went to their hometowns, or they could upload their photos from home and participate wherever they were. Everyone had a chance to get involved. That's an important part of Beats as a brand. They're made for everybody, whether you're a kid in the suburbs or a champion on the world stage.' 

Fans were invited to 'join the movement' by sharing a word and a colour through FacebookInstagramonline or in global retail locations. Submissions and conversations were drawn together using the hashtag #showyourcolor. Temple said: 'We always lead with digital because we want to invite people to have a conversation. Beats is a social brand; you can see how that exchange has powered its growth. Because we know what kind of conversation we want to have, we can architect the channel strategy to support that.' 

For example, fans sharing details of their favourite musician and interacting with the brand on social media were sent custom Facebook cover photos of their top artist.

And the strategy has paid off. Through #showyourcolor, the brand has successfully increased its social media following, known as the Beats Army, adding an additional 1.7 million Facebook fans, a 76% growth in Instagram followers and a 57% increase in YouTube subscribers.

Hip hop artist and producer Dr. Dre, founded the brand with American producer, Jimmy Iovine in 2006. The pair sold a 50% stake in the company to electronics manufacturers HTC in 2011, before buying back a 25% stake in 2012. Dre and Iovine worked with producers to perfect the sound of the headphones, and Dre's involvement in the brand extends to the current campaign. When the number of uploaded photo submissions reached critical mass, he announced that people would have the chance to win a role in the brand's second TV spot. Ten fans were selected and flown to LA to meet Dre and participate in the shoot for the latest commercial, held at his personal recording studio.

Temple explained the agency's approach to working with its client: 'This is the future of 360 campaigns. We're pioneering it now. Small teams working collaboratively with the clients to innovate fast. We come up with an idea, prototype it, see if it works. If it's hot, we roll it out market by market. This is the way R/GA is changing the game in a way traditional agencies can't.'

Temple added: 'Beats isn't just about the music. That's one of the reasons the brand has become so remarkably successful. Its relevance is as part of culture, helping shape culture. The #showyourcolor campaign wasn't about the headphones. It was about consumers expressing themselves through the headphones. That's a key distinction. While the scale and impact were larger than life, the idea itself was very simple. This has always been a brand in the hands of consumers. We thought the campaign should work the same way.' 

The brand not only accounted for 50% of all headphone sales during the 2012 holiday season in the US, but Beats by Dr. Dre became the country's #1 audio brand. 

Buoyed by its strong results, more will follow from headphone brand, including the UK launch of its TV commercial next week. Temple concluded: 'Just like in the music industry, you're only as good as your last hit. That's why we've got our sights set on successes still to come.'