Beats creative boss on making an emotional impact with consumers

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 17 June 2019
Beats' Sam Bergen

Beats VP, global brand creative, Sam Bergen says an emotional connection with a brand is more important than ever as consumers look for marketing that "authentically distinguishes" itself.

Bergen, who was the former managing director of Vice's creative agency Virtue and an ex-chief creative office for Omnicom, says an "emotional and personally-focus" marketing strategy is key to Beats success globally.

The current headphones and personal audio equipment industry is becoming increasingly cluttered as more brands enter the market and capitalise on advancements in the technology sector, particularly around smartphones.

Bergen says Beats prides itself on being a brand that is "immersed in culture", rather than relying on trends within it.

The challenge for the brand in the current landscape is not "sleeping behind the wheel" or "resting on its laurels" but also keeping the conversation around the brand fresh and relevant.

"If you're not being original and you're derivate and nobody wants that, whether that's in music or in film or in art. Nobody wants derivate stuff, they want original thinking and that is our challenge every day," Bergen says.

"We don't rely on some media playbook. Every time we go out, it's what's the original thing, what's the authentic thing we should be doing here based on this idea and this challenge we're trying to solve, and then ask if it's culturally relevant."

The Australian audio market has evolved rapidly over the last five years, with a report by IBIS World on the audiovisual electronic equipment manufacturing industry revealing the market has increased by 8% a year between 2014-19.

Industry growth has been fuelled by growth in export markets due to the depreciation of the Australian dollar over the period.

Beats has been a major contributor in the market and has expanded its well-known sports partnership arrangements locally, with AFL star Buddy Franklin one of the brand's local ambassadors.

Buddy Franklin BeatsAFL star Lance 'Buddy' Franklin for Beats

The brand has also had ongoing partnerships with popular Australian National Basketball League player Ben Simmons.

Bergen says sponsorship deals will always be an important factor for the brand but ads that Beats must utilise all media channels to remain relevant to a diversified retail market.

"We are one of the more innovative brands when it comes to that and our entire team from the marketing team to the PR team to our channels team is always thinking about innovative ways to make sure our products are showing up in the right places and culture," Bergen says.

"We're so fortunate that we have longstanding partners, that there's often this loyalty beyond reason. Much of that stuff has just ended up being organic which makes it feel so much more authentic than a strictly pay to play situation."

Bergen says the recent launch of its new product, the Power Beats Pro, is a key example of how the brand taps into multiple media channels to target a wider consumer base than other brands in the market.

To launch the product, Bergen says Beats was always aware there would be a need for a "massive traditional media push", but where the brand makes deeper connections with its audience is through "considered outdoor" campaigns and targeted digital marketing.

"We have to look at every product launch sort of individually. It all comes down to the strategy and what we're trying to accomplish with Power Beats Pro. It's absolutely invaluable as a brand that you do this, rather than continuing to do what you've simply done before," Bergen says.

"We have always been creatively motivated and so we have the benefit where media strategy isn't always guiding creative, allowing us to do something new with each product."

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