Beats by Dre won a gold in the APG awards with what, I think, is a great piece of advertising thinking. The brand and the agency (R/GA) may be super hip, yet the thinking is classical.
The brand found a fresh, simple and easy to understand emotional promise and dramatised it brilliantly – the idea that music helps top performers (in sport) to come out on top because of “focus”.
Reason to believe – Top athletes use Beats by Dre noise cancelling headphones to cut out the noise/the distractions/the detractors so they can be in the right mental state to win.
Like a lot of the best advertising thinking this is a revealed truth – top athletes attest that, at top level, winning is not about skill but mental strength and clarity in critical moments. This was brought to life in their film Hear what you want.
What thought processes can we take from this case to apply to other projects?
Barriers ask yourself – what are the barriers to this brand succeeding/and or why will this fail? This forces you to avoid conventional approaches and to think about the competitive bear pit that the brand will find itself when it goes to market. Beats by Dre had a big obvious barrier: It couldn’t fight it out on technical specs/product innovation because competitors already more cred’ (Sennheiser/Sony/Bose ) and anyway Beats had historically been dissed as a posers brand. Not for people who really love music.
Benefit of the benefit of the benefit. This is creativity exercise that I was taught by the creative director at my first agency. Start with a product fact/innovation and see if you can convert it into a powerful (but credible) emotional promise through lateral thinking
Example: we are a big mortgage provider. So- we approve lots of mortgages. So - that means lots of couples get to buy the home they want. So- we help young couples create a family home. (That is a NatWest ad that has been on air recently. The ad is a bit “John Lewis lite”. But the promise is good.)
Beats Example. Our new phones cut out noise so you can hear the music not the background - so - that means you will not be distracted by the world around you. So - that means you will be calm and focussed. So - that means you will have the focus that is needed to perform at your very best.
Then of course Beats by Dre executed this promise in a famous way using famous sports stars. And fame – as Binet and Field have shown in the IPA studies- makes for some of the most effective advertising.
Julian Saunders is a strategist, teacher and writer.
This was first published on is blog - Joined Up Think - on 7th November 2017