Bose Set to Consolidate Global Media With IPG and WPP Agencies

Bose Spent $206 Million on Measured Media in the U.S. Last Year

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Headphone and speaker maker Bose has consolidated its media agency business with agencies belonging to Interpublic Group and WPP, following a lengthy review that began this spring.

An Interpublic team consisting of Mediahub -- the media arm of Mullen -- and larger media agency sibling Initiative will support media and direct response for Bose in North America. International incumbent MediaCom will retain its work in Europe and add Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

The move consolidates media buying and planning business previously handled by various agencies in local markets, including incumbents Mediahub in the U.S. and MediaCom abroad. Omnicom had handled direct response for Bose.

Agencies mentioned either declined to comment or didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Bose did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

London-based search consultancy Ebiquity supported the review.

The winners competed with Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia and Omnicom's OMD, among other smaller shops, for the business.

The U.K.-based sound system and headset giant spent $206 million on measured media in the U.S. alone last year, according to Kantar Media.

It's a sizeable win for the Interpublic and WPP shops, but it's also a challenge for those charged with helping an established brand stand out in a newly competitive environment.

Messaging around science and quality has always trumped flash and pop culture at Bose, a brand founded by MIT professor, Dr. Amar Bose. Dr. Bose died last summer at 83. The brand's mantra is "better sound through research."

Meanwhile, Apple has been generating buzz and speculation around its plans for newly acquired headphone and speaker brand Beats. According to people familiar with the category, Beats' rapid growth for its own business, as well as the entire speakers and headphone category, have lifted a number of major brands, including Bose. But with Apple working to take the Beats brand to the next level, the newcomer is pressuring other wireless home-speaker and headphone players to stand out.

Bose extended its sponsorship with the National Football League as its official headphone and headset brand in an agreement mandating that coaches wear Bose headphones. It also signed a handful of high-profile players as spokespeople. While Bose's NFL presence is a boon for its brand, the league's move to fine a player $10,000 for wearing headphones by competitor Beats also put Bose in an awkward PR position. Sonos has a Major League Baseball streaming audio service.

Bose launched its SoundTouch wireless streaming line in October and a new Bluetooth product in February.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article described the Sonos relationship with Major League Baseball as a sponsorship. Sonos has an MLB streaming service but is not sponsoring MLB.

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