Will Beats Help Apple Find Its Marketing Rhythm?

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) recent acquisition of Beats Electronics may have given it more than just a premium headphone maker and subscription music streaming service. Recent tweets from two prominent Apple executives praising Beats’ latest advertisement suggests that the Cupertino, California-based company may have also gained inspiration for a new marketing direction. As seen in the video clip above, Beats’ “The Game Before The Game” ad focuses on the FIFA World Cup that kicks off with a match in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

On Monday, Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue tweeted, “As a huge sports fan, I love ‘The Game Before The Game.’” CEO Tim Cook also hailed the commercial in a tweet on Wednesday. “The Game Before The Game. The team at #Beats captures it perfectly,” said Cook. “A must watch before #World Cup.”

While the Apple executives’ praise for the Beats commercial could be dismissed as corporate backscratching related to the company’s $3 billion purchase of Beats, it should be noted that the comments come amid reports that the iPhone maker is shifting its overall marketing strategy. Last week, “people with knowledge of the matter” cited by Bloomberg revealed that Apple had created an in-house television advertising team in order to have better control of its brand image and product marketing.

Apple’s creation of a new internal ad team reveals a rift between the iPhone maker and its longtime ad agency, Media Arts Lab. Media Arts Lab is a unit of Omnicom Group’s (NYSE:OMC) TBWA\Chiat\Day ad agency that is responsible for some of Apple’s most memorable advertisements, including the iconic “1984” Super Bowl commercial and the “Think Different” campaign.

However, internal Apple communications that came to light in the company’s recent patent-infringement trial against Samsung (SSNLF.PK) showed that Apple was becoming increasingly unsatisfied with its primary ad agency’s marketing efforts. Apple “may need to start a search for a new agency,” wrote Senior Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller in an email to Cook seen by The Wall Street Journal.  “We are not getting what we need from them and haven’t been in a while.”

In another email to Media Arts Lab executive James Vincent, Schiller cited the appeal of Samsung’s Super Bowl commercial last year while expressing his concerns about Apple’s own faltering ad campaign. “I watched the Samsung pre-Super Bowl ad that launched today,” wrote Schiller in an email obtained by AdAge. “It’s pretty good and I can’t help but think these guys are feeling it (like an athlete that can’t miss because they are in a zone), while we struggle to nail a compelling brief on iPhone.”

The creation of an internal ad team isn’t the only marketing change that Apple has implemented. According to AdAge, Apple has also recently hired four additional digital ad agencies as it seeks to regain its marketing rhythm. The turmoil in Apple’s relationship with its longtime ad agency and the recent comments from Cook and Cue suggest that the company is open to adopting a new marketing approach. Beats’ successful commercials may provide the template for Apple’s new marketing direction.

Beats co-founder Dr. Dre may help guide Apple’s in-house advertisement creation. As noted in The Wall Street Journal‘s recent profile of Dr. Dre, the legendary rap star and music producer has a reputation as a “cultural barometer” of coolness, and his instincts helped make Beats headphones a best-selling premium headphone brand. According to IDC data cited by The Carlyle Group, Beats held a 64 percent share of the $100-plus premium headphone market in the U.S. in September. While it remains to be seen if Apple will adopt a Beats-style approach to its own marketing efforts, there seems to be little doubt that the iPhone maker is changing its marketing tune.

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