Monster Announces New Monster, New Partnerships, and Mini-Fashion Show

New Monster Global VP of Marketing and Web, Tracy Benson

Tracy Benson
Monster’s New Global VP of Marketing and Web

At the CEA LineShow last week, Monster put on a press conference that, as usual, was quite a show. And the first surprise was that the event was kicked off by a new Monster – recently appointed Global VP of Marketing and Web Tracy Benson. Benson, a former Senior Director at Best Buy, wasted no time launching into the presentation by reminding reporters that Monster Beats “proved them wrong” when many said consumers would not pay more for a better, more richer listening experience.

Speaking in a halting monotone, Benson went on to say that today’s consumer “also wants to define their style, their sense of freedom, their independence, and their self-expression.” It is, she said, the “generation of me – I am the media.”

“We know that the music really does matter,” Benson told reporters. “Innovation…matters as well.”

>>See a full slide show from the Monster Press Conference<<

Connecting with connectedness…

CEA Line Show LogoBenson told reporters that designing products today is more challenging than ever before. “Asking the right questions of ourselves, like, how can we design products that connect and create ‘connectedness’ with our consumers to experience as they want.”

“We all know that connectedness is the new world we’re living in,” Benson added. Benson then went on to introduce the “Head Monster” Noel Lee.

Photo of Noel Lee, Head Monster

Noel Lee
Head Monster

Always lead…never follow…

Exhibiting much higher energy, Lee wasted no time launching his presentation: “I wanted to deliver several messages to you today. First of all, Monster always leads, never follows…and we emphasize this in everything we’ve done.”

With that, Lee reviewed the company’s philosophy of the new world of HDMI – higher bandwidth, higher speed is what Monster is all about, Lee told reporters. And this has never been more true in the new world of 4K video resolution.

As he talked, Lee flipped through a series of slides, some with complicated tables of numbers and charts, apparently showing speed requirements based on various bit rates and resolutions. If you blinked – you missed them…but many had been shown before at previous Monster press conferences.

The science of imaging…

“So, we’re introducing here our new ISF cables and introducing our first smart cables,” Lee said. “And a smart cable is a cable that tells you what resolution is going through the cable – revolutionary. And consumers are really going to need it.”

Slide announcing new ISF cables from Monster

Slide showing new ISF cables from Monster

To give a further explanation, Lee introduced the President of the Imaging Science Foundation, Joel Silver. Like Lee, Silver wasted no time launching his presentation.

Silver tries to focus the picture…

“We need to talk about two simple things,” Silver told reporters. “One, a major compromise that’s victimizing consumers everyday while we’re here; and Noel and his team of engineers bring a solution to that. And number two, a major misconception about 4K.”

Although his phrasing was often curious and hard to follow, what Silver was referring to in his first point is that consumers are confused – they pay good money for high definition cable service, but what  they’re actually watching is standard definition. Why? Because 480P is safe.

Calling all smart people…

It takes a smart person to step through the menus to set the system up for high definition, Silver says. “This is a problem we’re dealing with daily.” Silver goes on to say that his calibrators often set systems for HD and consumers are seeing a picture quality they’ve never seen before.

Noel Lee and Monster is making this easier by offering “a simple solution.” Simply plug-in Monster’s new cables with LED indicators showing the resolution as SD, HD, 4K. So consumers will now know that “they’re not getting what they paid for.”

Photo of Joel Silver and Noel Lee

Joel Silver, ISF and Noel Lee, Monster

Don’t misconceive the misconception…

It’s a misconception that 4K is only for large screens, Silver told us. Saying he’s seen 4K on a 22-inch screen and it “knocked our socks off.” Silver went on to say that 4K is a “game changer” for every monitor you watch. “I want you guys to think 4K.”

Monster’s new ISF cables will sell for $100 and $150 and will be at all independent specialists. “So we’re looking for specialist retailers who can tell the story and will be the first to adopt 4K,” Lee said. He went on to thank Gary Yacoubian and Gary Shapiro for the emphasis of the CEA on evangelizing the benefits of 4K.

>>See a full slide show from the Monster Press Conference<<

The year of the headphone…

Reminding everybody that at CES, Monster announced that it was time for the industry to “Join the Revolution,” Lee announced that this year will be the year of the headphone. “We’ve changed the game in audio,” Lee proclaimed.

Lee showed a chart of consumer purchase intentions and noted that something like 42% of the survey respondents indicated that they were going to buy headphones in the near future. This will drive our business for quite some time, Lee told reporters.

How to beat Beats…

“So what’s next after Beats,” Lee asked rhetorically. “You know, all the stuff I did for Dre and the Beats, what is the consumer expecting? Well, it’s back to sound, isn’t it?”

Lee told us that Monster plans to engineer more headphones optimized for a wider variety of music types. So, “welcome to the revolution in headphones,” Lee proclaimed. Lee then went on to say that how headphones look, the fashion if you will, is as important as how they sound today, “It’s part of the ecosystem today,” said the Head Monster.

Lee discussed their partnership with the Diesel Vektor headphones as an example of how fashion is influencing the business. This is what started the revolution, Lee suggested.

“Lines were around the block” when they launched the new Diesel Vektor headphones in New York, Lee exclaimed.

Lee gets inspired with Inspirations…

Lee then announced “the official launch of Inspiration,” a headphone originally launched at CES. “And the byline here is serious audio and high style…you have to have both.”

Photo of slide on Inspirations headphones

Inspirations Headphones
(Click image to enlarge.)

Inspirations is a different kind of headphone, Lee suggested. Audio technologies have to be a game-changer. In Inspirations, Monster is focusing more on the audio quality and the overall quality of reproduction. When people try on a pair of Inspirations, they say “thank God that you’re not pumping up the bass, you’re not doing the things that you did with Dre and the Beats.”

Putting audio on the fashion runway…

With Inspirations, you get a more balanced type of sound. But not only that, you can change the look, the style of the headphones…it’s about fashion. And at that, Lee cued the start of a mini-fashion show with five fashion models joining him on the stage with different versions of headbands on the Inspirations headphones.

“We think this has a very broad audience,” Lee said. “The headphone itself is very conservative looking, so if you don’t want to feel like your kids, you don’t have to. This is targeted to the audience of the new professional, the up-and-coming, the tech savvy kind of customer and I think that is a new audience.”

Inspirations is launching in New York right now with billboards in Times Square, on buildings, at retailers like J&R Music, ads in United Airlines Hemispheres Magazine, and more. Inspirations is launching in all Apple Stores worldwide, “One of the first times that’s ever been done.”

New iSport USA Headphones

Monster’s new iSport USA model

C’mon…be a sport, an iSport…

Lee then reviewed the success of their new iSport in-ear headphones designed to be used during exercise or athletics. “It’s not cheap,” Lee said. “But it’s the best in the world.”

Monster is launching a new version, called iSport USA. iSport is a limited production run that celebrates American athletes around the country and it introduces the next generation of performance technology.

Seeking mobile clarity…

At this point in the presentation, Lee discussed products already on the market: the Monster Micro and their new Bluetooth streaming module meant to be added to their ClarityHD powered speaker products. We have covered these products before, most recently at a dealer show in New York (see our coverage here…).

Lee then made a dramatic exit with his models at his side. He did NOT take questions from the audience. Originally, had been invited to a private interview of Noel Lee…something we were looking forward to. But we got preempted when Lee was invited to participate in a headphone technology panel.

Noel Lee and Inspirations Models

Noel Lee and Models Showing Inspirations Headphones

We have a lot of questions…

That is a shame…because we have a lot of questions. Looming large on the Monster calendar is the upcoming severance of their deal with Dr. Dre and Beats at the end of this year. Beats has been a huge driver of their overall headphone business. To us, it appears that Monster has given up on trying to find a replacement celebrity endorser to replace Dre. At CES, we were introduced to a new line from Nick Cannon…there was no discussion or update on this series at the CEA Line Show.

Instead of celebrity endorsers, Monster appears to be trying to pave a new path with fashion-centric designs. It remains to be seen if this will be a sufficient sales motivator. Living in the New York Metro market, I can tell you I see Beats headphones just about every day. That won’t be easy to replicate.

For more information on Monster products, see:

>>See a full slide show from the Monster Press Conference<<

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