Ads for Beats by Dre are like a hall of fame of professional sports talents, featuring the likes of Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, LeBron James, Bubba Watson and Sha’Carri Richardson. Now the brand is branching out into new terrain with the signing of Jackson State University quarterback Shedeur Sanders as its first college sports brand ambassador. He’s also the youngest athlete to join its talent roster.
Sanders' signing is now possible following the National Collegiate Athletic Assocation’s rule change on July 1 that allows college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. The 19-year-old freshman had originally committed to joining Florida Atlantic University, but ultimately, he decided to join the historically Black Jackson State, where he’s now coached by his own father, Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
When the younger Sanders made his decision last fall, he announced on Twitter, “I couldn’t pass up a opportunity to help level the playing field & pursue equality for HBCU”s (sic) ! Dad I got your back!”
A new ad from Beats captures Sanders training on the field and elaborating poetically on his decision to play at Jackson State. “This one is for the culture, for my people, for the fans, for the boom,” he says. “This is what a quarterback does—takes the culture and amplifies it. Choices make legends. Be legendary.” The spot was created in-house at Beats and directed by Ahmon Lott.
Sanders fits right into Beats’ universe of athletes who stand for more than just their accomplishments on the field or in the stadium. Beats, for example, was the first major brand to feature track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson in an ad after she was banned from the Olympics for testing positive for marijuana use.
“I’m excited to be part of a brand that inspires and represents the culture in a positive way; and that’s exactly what I want to do with my career,” said Sanders in a statement. “ It’s an honor to be the first college athlete on their roster, and I couldn’t have imagined a better partnership.”
“Beats has always been aware of the sheer amount of talent in the NCAA, and we’re so excited to now be able to support these athletes from the very beginning of their careers,” added Chris Thorne, CMO of Beats. "While we expect to work with other college athletes in the future, we really aimed to bring Shedeur into the Beats family as soon as possible. His inspirational decision to take his abilities to an HBCU shows us that he is already building a legacy that exists beyond the field.”