Aug 03, 2012 at 02:19 PM
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In Q2, This Headphone Maker Sponsored Nearly 50 Different Events

The headphone category is a white hot category. You know things are getting frothy when there are headphones for cats and perhaps no single event has done more for the premium headphones category than the London 2012 Olympics with the most famous of Olympians evading the IOC strutting their Beats by Dr Dre and Sol Republic's around Olympic venues. Whereas some category leaders are focused on celebrity seeding, one major player is continuing to step up sponsorship of events. According to execs at the Park City-based headphone maker, this company has sponsored 47 events in 29 states across the country with reach of over 400,000 consumers in the second quarter alone.

"From the marketing and brand development side, we are telling a more consistent brand story...the branding message continues to revolve around our athletes and ambassadors, with a particular focus on basketball, skateboarding and music," Skullcandy CEO Jeremy Andrus says.

Expanding beyond its outdoor action sports roots (snowboarders, skateboarders, etc.), Skullcandy has recently put emphasis on basketball partnerships. The brand that sponsored the popular James Harden 'Respect the Beard' photo contest during the NBA playoffs, can be seen in the Olympic village alongside the other popular headphone makers on the ears of Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Andre Iguodala. Skullcandy's basketball partnerships, however, are just as focused on grassroots activities. Skullcandy recently became the official headphone of three top high school basketball programs and the brand is sponsoring other premier high school basketball tournaments and awards such as ESPN Elite 24.

For many it seems, headphones are becoming as essential to performance as sports apparel and equipment.

“We realized that athletes need headphones and proper emotional sound as much as they need great sneakers and equipment,” Jimmy Iovine, the chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M and a founder of Beats by Dre, told the New York Times.

Skullcandy says its leveraging its sports partnerships and athletes to expand in the music industry as well. Recently the brand partnered on music videos with artists such as 2 Chainz, Drake, Travis Porter and Cruella.

Despite such an active category, no one premium headphone maker has established anything close to a dominant presence in the space. With brands like Beats by Dr. Dre, Sol Republic, Soul by Ludacris, 50 Cent's Sync by 50 and many others jockeying for position, the category looks like another case where market fragmentation pays off for smart sponsorship seekers.

So what's next for Skullcandy? Execs say the brand has another 34 events planned for the second half of 2012, including 6 Red Bull events, the Triple Crown Surfing, the NBA season, college football and high school basketball activations.