Bob Marley-Inspired Audio Gear For 'One World'
|Bob Marley’s family is selling line of eco-friendly audio gear with a portion of profits going to their international charity.|
LAS VEGAS -- Even by CES standards, it was an odd sight on Sunday night: A dreadlocked, middle-aged man rocking out while holding a wood-and-fabric iPod boombox playing Bob Marley tunes. Behind him was a wall of gear including beefy headphones, iPod speaker docks and larger speaker systems. And above it all was a portrait of the reggae hero.
Stereotypical marketing, it seemed. But the man was more than a set piece. He’s actually Rohan Marley, son of the “Legend.” And at least a smidgen — 5 percent — of the profits from sales by the company, simply called Marley go to causes such as Charity Water that do help the world be as one.
“We wanted to represent the movement, what my father lived for,” said Marley, who took a different path than his dad by playing as a linebacker for the University of Miami. (He offered up a flexed deltoid as proof of continued fitness.) According to Marley, the family saw other music companies associating themselves with his father, often without permission of the family. And they wanted to take back the legacy.
That was the same motivation named by Tony Ostrom, a veteran audio engineer and salesman from generic-sounding parent company FKA Distribution, which partnered with the Marleys. The collection – announced at last year’s CES but hitting the market first in August – lives up to the family ideals, he said, including “high performance at any price.” For example, the entry-level headphones, part of the Jammin’ collection, start at $100 – compared to the $200 starting point for Monster’s beats by Dr. Dre line. The mid-level collection is called Freedom, and the price of freedom goes as high as $200 for headphones and $350 for one of the wooden docks. At the top of the Destiny line is the One Foundation, a 200-watt, Apple AirPlay-equipped speaker bar that will sell for $600 at midyear. The boombox Marley was holding, Bag of Rhythm, hits the market in February for $350.
The company seems to be pretty serious about its “sustainable” ideal, as well. The products are made from materials like organic cotton, recycled plastic and metals, bamboo, and environmentally certified wood. That gives them an organic, rustic look far different from the high-gloss, largely plastic docks and phones out there.
So how do the Marleys feel about other celebs at CES selling gear that is not at all for charity? “We do things in other ways,” he said. But he said he’s “happy what all the other guys are doing,” like Dr. Dre and Ludacris, because they are trying new things.
He didn’t mention one of this year’s other CES celeb, Snookie.