Dr. Dre has made his mark on the 2012 Olympics by launching an ambush marketing campaign that has infuriated Olympic chiefs. The rapper came up with the idea of sending athletes special versions of his Beats headphones, complete with personalization and decked out in national colors.
Dre and his public relations and marketing teams devised the plan to send batches of the headphones to Great Britain athletes, despite the detailed regulations of the International Olympic Committee that prohibit “advertising” from companies that do not hold official Olympic rights.
Several swimmers and members of the British soccer team have been spotted wearing the headphones. The IOC is considering what action to take. It is unlikely the athletes can be ordered not to wear the items, but they could be prevented from mentioning them in interviews via social media.
“If there is a blatant attempt at ambush marketing or by a group of people with commercial views then of course we will intervene,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said.
Tennis players, archers and platform divers, mainly from Britain, were also seen with the flag-emblazoned headphones. There was speculation the success of the project would lead to Beats by Dre offering similar handouts to athletes from other nations.
The popularity of Beats by Dre began to grow during the 2008 Games in Beijing after the company gave headphones to LeBron James and he distributed them to the rest of the NBA players on Team USA. Upon their arrival in Beijing, several of the players were wearing the headphones as the international media greeted them.
The IOC is especially angered as it has an official electronics partner in Panasonic whose interests it is likely to take action to protect.
“We have to be careful because without these measures there could be no sponsorships and without sponsorships there would be no Olympics,” Rogge said.