HIRING

The MVP of Super Bowl Product Placement

Officials at the Indianapolis company that makes the head set worn by Drew Brees' baby son had no idea they were on the verge of amazing product placement.
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When New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees held his one-year-old son, Baylen, moments after winning Super Bowl XLIV, he created a moment akin to those iconic "I'm Going to Disney World" TV commercials of championships gone by.

But on Sunday evening, it was another brand that may have caught viewers' eyes: Peltor. That was the label on the oversized headphones that covered baby Baylen's ears, in order to muffle the massive stadium crowd's roar and keep his eardrums safe from decibel damage. 

The headsets were apparently not part of a promotional product placement deal, and they were not given to the Brees as a gift from the company. "He wears them for all the games," Brees told nola.com. "I credit Brittany for that."

Peltor is a brand owned by (wait for it) an Indianapolis-based company called Aearo, which was acquired by the conglomerate 3M in April 2008. "I knew nothing of it at all ahead of time," says Jason Jones, the marketing manager for 3M's hearing products division, who turned off his TV immediately after the game and missed seeing his product get the kind of placement for which Budweiser or Doritos brands would pay a fortune. "It was a nice shock."

Looking at photographs today, Jones says it appears as if Baylen Brees was wearing the Peltor Junior Earmuff, a model priced between $15 and $25, that is available in pink or blue in addition to the black Baylen wore. The Peltor Junior has a noise-reduction rating under federal standards of 22, which means it reduces the volume of noise by 22 decibels.

"You can see in the pictures the black lettering that says Peltor and the gold that I believe says junior," Jones says.

Although news outlets are speculating that little Baylen couldn't hear a thing when his MVP dad leaned over to say, "I love you, little man" to his son as the after-game confetti swirled around them, Jones believes the MVP's touching comments may have been audible to the child.

"The product is going to take out noise to a certain level, but you can always hear something through a muff," Jones explains. "The question is how much are you going to be hearing."

Whether the national exposure will result in greater sales of the Peltor is hard to say. Because 3M sells its noise-reducing earmuffs through a variety of online outlets (such as Cooper Safety Supply and Amazon.com) and construction supply retailers (such as Guardian), update sales figures will not reach Jones for at least a few days.

But it's clear that the MVP-level concern for Baylen's hearing struck a chord with the Super Bowl's enormous viewing audience.  As the New York Times' Lisa Belkin wrote on her blog, going that extra mile to ensure a baby's safety is "what being a parent is about."

One suspects that Jones and the marketers at Aearo and 3M are already quoting that line in their marketing collateral.

Last updated: Feb 8, 2010

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.




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