January 7, 2016

Case Study – Beats #showyourcolor campaign

What every business can learn from the success of Dre Beats #showyourcolor headphones campaign.

Dre Beats headphones are the foundation of audio electronics company – Beats. Beats was launched by famous rapper and producer Dr. Dre, and former Interscope Records chairman, Jimmy Iovine, back in 2006.

The company was acquired last year by Apple in a deal worth an estimated $3 billion US.

Are Beats the superior choice of headphone in terms of sound quality? No. Are they the superior choice for build quality and comfort? No. Do Beats provide the best value for money return? No.

You will rarely find Beats appear in any top 10 list of quality headphone reviews. You will however find the name thrown about in articles like ‘ten headphones better than Dr Dre Beats’, or ‘why Dr Dre Beats are a waste of money’.

So how on earth did Beats become one of the most successful audio accessories on the face of the earth?

  • An epic celebrity endorsement profile, (from Lebron James to Pharrell Williams)
  • A history of clever marketing campaigns that transformed Beats into a cultural phenomenon

The 2012 #showyourcolor campaign combined high-end celebrity endorsements with a unique, individualized marketing strategy.

Situation and Insight

In the lead up to the 2012 release of the Solo Color HD headphone, Dre Beats were without a major official sponsor. They needed a unique marketing strategy that would propel the product into the spotlight while capturing the attention of consumers on an individual level.


Part 1 – International attention

Dre Beats controversially, but effectively, hijacked advertising space at the 2012 Olympic games. By sending personalized headphones to a number of competing athletes, they were able to have their product thrown into international media spotlight without even being an official sponsor of the games.

Part 2 – Capturing the individual

Following the Olympic hijacking, Beats by Dr. Dre launched the #showyourcolors campaign based around the themes of individuality and self-expression. The campaign took over time square for a whole day, allowing people to pose with the new headphones and have their photo blown up on all sides of the famous landmark intersection.



The move transitioned Beats from audio accessory to cultural phenomenon; the whole campaign was an astronomical success, inspiring:

  • 7 million new Facebook fans, increasing the original like count to over 5 million
  • An increase to 80% market share of premium headphone sales in the US
  • A transition to the number one audio brand in the US

The take home message

So often businesses and marketing companies make the mistake of believing their product or service should be directly pushed upon potential consumers. Sure, you may offer a great business or service, but this marketing approach is almost guaranteed to have a negative impact.

Taking a business or brand to the next level in today’s flooded market will often require a unique marketing approach; people want to be inspired.

Think a little differently, create a culture, and you will win consumers.