By: Kristine Holm
Harman International, manufacturer of JBL, Harman Kardon, AKG, and Infinity audio gear, has plans for multiple celebrity branding deals this year, according to an article in Businessweek. The biggest celebrity name is Paul McCartney, who is endorsing JBL audio gear, which he has used since his days as a Beatle. This is a huge win for Harman, as it marks the first time that McCartney has ever endorsed any product. Other celebrities who will endorse Harman products include Tim McGraw, Jennifer Lopez, Maroon 5, and A.R. Rahman. The Tim McGraw deal will be for high-end AKG headphones and Harman is also currently developing another line of high-end headphones with Kanye West. Harman’s CEO has stated that the combination of Harman’s 60-year heritage in the audio industry with the star power of celebrity endorsements will be a “game changer” for the company.
Harman’s recent foray into celebrity branding deals comes after the company raised its marketing budget to $50 million – an increase of 50 percent. This huge expenditure in marketing dollars may be a response to the great success of Beats by Dr. Dre, the line of headphones endorsed and co-owned by producer/rapper Dr. Dre. The high-end headphone market has doubled in size in each of the past two years and is currently estimated to be a $600 million industry. Beats has a whopping 55 percent share, which it has reached after only three years on the market. Undoubtedly, the success of Beats is due largely in part to the celebrity endorsement of Beats headphones by Dr. Dre, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber.