The NFL Needs a Massive Rebrand. Here’s the Group That Might Be Able to Spearhead It

With compounding scandals plaguing the NFL and controversy over the handling (or mishandling) coming from fans, players, politicians, and even between the 32 teams and their franchise owners, the league is in desperate need of a rebrand. And the decision over who will be the next owner or owners of the Carolina Panthers could be pivotal in how the NFL repositions itself.

The original owner of the Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson is selling his rights to the team after it became public that the Panthers organization made multiple confidential settlements for incidents of sexual misconduct and a racial slur by Richardson.

It’s not just Richardson though. The last five years have been the perfect storm of scandals contributing to indicators of slowing growth in the NFL brand. The newly formed Carolina Keep Pounding, LLC, a diverse ownership group, is shaping up to be the bid that could help the NFL brand pivot to put a bigger emphasis on fan value.

Scandal Effect Indicators On Brand Value

The NFL is the most popular sports league, reportedly earning over $14 billion in the 2016-17 season. It’s not new to dealing with potential brand (and revenue) damaging scandals. But the long-term effect of compounding scandals potentially impacting the bottom line should be the most troubling for brand NFL:

  • Drop in TV Ratings – Ratings and viewership has been trending down due to a slow adoption of new media arrangements and controversial sponsorship with DraftKings and FanDuel that has fallen flat with many fans.
  • Empty Seats – The divisive scandal involving kneeling during the National Anthem is reported to have been impacting ticket sales with many fans streaming videos of low attendance and empty stadiums.
  • Decreased Interscholastic Football Participation – The pervasive concussion problem has resulted in lower enrollment of kids playing football. According to the California Interscholastic Federation, football participation decreased by 3.12 percent this year and is down 10 percent this decade.
  • 20 Percent Dip In Product Sales – The National Anthem and sex scandals have been noted by licensees as contributing to the problem of declining merchandising revenue. If you follow my column you know how frequently I cite the statistic that 85% of retail sales is controlled by women. NFL merchandising is no different and the effect is being seen at the cash register with a reported 20 percent dip in NFL merchandise, the largest decline in a decade. Note: The Washington Redskins name controversy alone, led to a year-over-year drop of 43.8 percent.

Carolina #KeepPounding In Charlotte

So who’s behind Carolina Keep Pounding? It’s a coalition of seasoned and multicultural entrepreneurs, investors, Hall of Famers, political figures and philanthropists aiming to acquire the Panthers and keep the team in Charlotte. The group is led by Charlotte-bred entrepreneur Arthur Wylie, whose team of advisors includes civil rights pioneer and Washington Post proclaimed power broker Bob Brown, and his firm BC International’s senior partners, Osyris Uqoezwa and Larry Yon. BC is the oldest and most respected minority-owned global strategy firms.

In addition to Wylie, Brown, and Uqoezwa, the Carolina Keep Pounding team also includes: former Carolina Panthers; John Mazzarino, founder of the $2 billion fund Cherokee Investment Partners; Michael Rollins who runs Jamaica’s Rose Hall Estates and is a member of the Rollins family, the commercial services company behind Orkin Pest Control; and Dale Godboldo philanthropic investor and actor (“The People v. OJ Simpson”). The group is already gaining support from local and state government officials for the city of Charlotte and the Carolinas. Discussions are underway with other high-profile investment partners in efforts to build a well-resourced, diverse team.

Do They Have What It Takes?

If this group is committed to developing everything they need to be a strong franchise partner and direct the Carolina brand, then they need the right skills for brand value zone coverage. Every good brand needs to have these four critical factors to build sustainable growth value:

  1. Media Business Skills: In this case, being business savvy means media and merchandising more than it does sports. The members of the Carolina Keep Pounding team have depth in many diverse areas of media and sports business strategy, investment and tactics making them a fit to steer a brand franchise.
  2. Fan First Focus: According to the Carolina Panthers Twitter page, “The fan is the most valuable member of our team.” Understanding who Panther fans are and why they love the team is essential to building fan trust – the real key to brand growth. 
  3. Integrity Heart: This goes deeper than supporting local charities, having a youth program and wearing camouflage on Veteran’s Day. This is a commitment to the responsibility as role models and people of integrity. Doing what has heart has always been a better bottom-line strategy.
  4. Diversity: Again this goes deep…deeper than skin color. This is about diversity in perspective, age, political leanings, cultural experience, gender, and economic background. Retail brands that have homogeneous management have weak products and even weaker fan loyalty. 

This Carolina Keep Pounding team seems to cover the field with cultural and age diversity, heart, media experience, and passion as fans and as locals. But the question remains as to whether or not they fit the brand plans and re-brand efforts by the NFL and its ownership. There is a tremendous amount of NFL franchise brand value riding on the decision of who will be awarded this elite investment opportunity. It is not just about who can write the biggest check.

Chuwi SurBook Mini hands-on: A compact workhorse that ticks all the boxes

I have been using the Surbook Mini for several weeks now as my main work machine — initially as a tablet PC with a stylus, but for the last week, as a PC with the additional keyboard.

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At first glance, the Chuwi SurBook Mini looks exactly like its big brother, Surbook, which I reviewed in September 2017. But there are some subtle differences in this mighty mini.

Obviously, it is a smaller device overall. The product size is 268.9mm x 183.9mm, and it is 8.7-mm thick. The SurBook’s aluminium body has dimensions of 297.8mm x 203.3mm and 9.4mm thick. The Mini weighs 686g.

Inside this Windows 10 tablet PC, there is an Intel Apollo Lake N3450 quad core 64-bit CPU with a ninth-generation Intel HD 500 graphics card at 700Mhz frequency. Its 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage should be more than enough for the road warrior or commuter.

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The screen is an impressive 10.8 inches, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The side borders of the screen are quite wide at almost an inch. I do feel that Chuwi could have reduced the bezels and increased the screen real estate. Like the SurBook, the kickstand extends up to 125 degrees.

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The SurBook Mini has a simplified array of ports on the side of the housing. There are two USB 3.0 ports and a USB-C for video, audio, and device charging. It also has a 3.5mm audio jack. Its 8000mAh battery is more than adequate for several hours work

I was disappointed with the camera on the SurBook Mini. It has a 2-megapixel front camera and 2-megapixel rear camera. This resolution is perfectly adequate for video calls, but it lacked on still image quality. The larger SurBook managed to squeeze a 5-megapixel rear camera into its body.

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I noticed the difference between images taken with each device. However, this was not a showstopper for me, as I take most of my pictures from my mobile phone.

Installing Windows 10 was a breeze on this Windows 10 Creators Update 15063 build. Cortana voice prompts let you do most of the install by voice. After many, many Windows 10 installs, I really enjoyed this one.

Cortana is also ready as soon as the PC has finished building. Previously, I had to manually download the speech and language modules for UK English before I could use this feature. This version just works well. I was impressed.

Performance is good for such a compact device — faster than a lot of Android tablets I have tried — and the smaller format keyboard (additional purchase) is well laid out and has good key travel.

The additional stylus is very responsive. Overall, this is a very nice mini Windows 10 device, and for around $250, you cannot go far wrong.

Previous and related coverage

Chuwi SurBook hands-on: A high-performing Surface clone

The Chuwi SurBook is an affordable, high-performing alternative to the Microsoft Surface and the Apple iPad Pro.

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Chuwi has unveiled a Surface Pro 4 clone, but one that features Intel’s lower-end Apollo Lake processor.

Chuwi Lapbook Air hands on: A slim, beautiful PC — but no touching

Chuwi’s Lapbook Air is slim and lovely, and it looks like a laptop costing twice as much.