Tag Archive: Stanley Cup


“In the darkness, we found the light. Introducing a new era of electronic driving.” – Volkswagen’s new advertising campaign tagline

“Hello, darkness, my old friend; I’ve come to talk to you again …” – Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s, “The Sounds of Silence”

Is the best defense a good offense?

Is the most effective present-day defense utilizing a Baby Boomer anthem and harkening back to the 1960s with its brightly colored Volkswagen Beetles and (Hippie) Microvans?

After being rightfully bashed and bloodied starting in the autumn of 2015 for deploying defeat software to deceive anti-pollution testing of its vehicles (Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche), heads rightfully started to roll at Volkswagen AG corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

On the line with “Dieselgate” was Volkswagen’s brand, but also the reputation of Germany’s legendary designers and engineers. Consider, there is probably no nation on earth that prides itself more than Germany for its commitment to the environment (note the recent electoral successes of die Grünen).

The Volkswagen cheating scandal was akin to catching a falling knife. Using another well-worn metaphor, the shocking story has legs and has been running unabated for nearly four years.

The scandal started in September, 2015 when the U.S. EPA charged Volkswagen with using illegal (air quality testing) manipulation devices. A related Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation was launched. Volkswagen’s chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn was fired.

A continuous chorus of charges, fines, lawsuits, increased governmental regulation, falling stock prices and recalls mounted against Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche subsidiaries. Last year, German authorities indicted Winterkorn on aggravated fraud charges.

Almost DailyBrett noted that Volkswagen did not follow to the letter the four basic tenets of Crisis Communications: Tell The Truth, Tell It All, Tell It Fast and Move On. In many ways Volkswagen management was just hoping this mess would simply subside.

Volkswagen management, employees, shareholders and even Kanzlerin Merkel and the German government had to confront the metaphorical Scheisse-Sandwich … you don’t nibble.

Back To The Drawing Board

At some point, the world’s largest automobile designer/manufacturer would have to go back on offense.

In doing so, Volkswagen realized it could not assume a business-as-usual approach.

Ultimately, Volkswagen appreciated that it has to acknowledge its wrongdoing, beg for forgiveness, and somehow, someway commence the hard work of rebranding … essentially moving on.

Volkswagen of America hired New York’s Johannes Leonardo advertising agency, and secured the rights to “The Sounds of Silence.”

The question posed to VW management: Can a major ad buy (part of a reported $2 billion campaign) for its 1:45 second spot featuring a Baby Boomer/Yuppie anthem make everything right in the world for Volkswagen?

In and of itself, the answer is obviously: no.

Almost DailyBrett has always believed that Volkswagen is engaged in a marathon, not a sprint. Volkswagen’s story, which began in 1937, deserves another chapter.

Americans are credited for being an understanding people. They will not forget, but are they willing to forgive and give … even a corporate entity … another chance?

The Johannes Leonardo creative, which debuted with the NBA Finals and the NHL’s Stanley Cup last week, is edgy as it literally starts in the darkness with a news announcer directly referencing the Volkswagen scandal.

One suspects that securing VW’s management approval for an open acknowledgement of moral failure was easier said than done. As Chairman Mao found out, the long-march back starts with the first step.

In our world of advertising bombast and overkill, it’s the extremely clever advertisement that stops the viewer in his or her tracks and commands attention.

The dark Sounds of Silence images convey going back to the drawing board. The result is the coming resurrection of the VW microvan … a concept vehicle for now … with the message the company’s environmentally friendly electric vehicle does not contribute to climate change. Volkswagen envisions 22 EVs (electric vehicles) by 2028, and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Volkswagen has stumbled for nearly four torturous years. The questions are with its new ad campaign and beyond: Has the company finally learned its lesson, and are we as consumers willing to forgive, while certainly not forgetting?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEvNL6oEr0U

https://www.fastcompany.com/90359361/volkswagen-aims-for-feel-good-redemption-in-new-major-ad-campaign

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a27784322/vw-hello-light-commercial-column/

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/dieselgate-timeline-germanys-car-emissions-fraud-scandal

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/business/winterkorn-volkswagen-emissions-scandal.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkiley5/2019/06/06/vw-goes-back-to-the-future-in-new-ad-campaign-to-put-dieselgate-in-rear-view/#1026a00d3aa5

https://www.vw.com/

http://johannesleonardo.com/

“A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.” – General George S. Patton

A happy problem, but still a dilemma, for organizations/movements/great leaders, who have just achieved long-sought landmark accomplishments, is: What will you do for an encore?

For championship college and professional sports teams the answer is relatively easy to state, harder to achieve: repeat. The Chicago Blackhawks are tasked with skating the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in seven seasons next spring. The Golden State Warriors are faced with the challenge of winning back-to-back NBA titles, something that has never occurred in the franchise’s mostly desultory history.

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] Gay-rights activists gathered outside of the Supreme Court on the morning when the Court handed down its decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] Gay-rights activists gathered outside of the Supreme Court on the morning when the Court handed down its decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

For the same-sex marriage movement the June 26 Supreme Court ruling, legalizing the right of gay people to marry, was made by a razor-thin 5-4 Obergefell v. Hodges decision. The impact nonetheless was 50-0 as every state is immediately and permanently required to permit the performing of same-sex unions, and to recognize their legality regardless of where or how (e.g., civil, religious) they occur.

The next question, which has already been posed by The New York Times and others, for the successful civil rights campaign, is what comes next? The answer will come in the form of celebrating a great political and society victory (e.g., Pride Parades). Eventually, the cheering will subside and the reality of everyday life and the challenge of American politics returns. Now what? Certainly, there is the continued necessity of protecting hard-earned rights and preventing discrimination, and that makes sense; still the question must be posed:

What comes next?

This is an easy question to pose, much more difficult to answer … and with it, the dilemma that has vexed organizations, movements and great characters throughout the course of history.

“One Small Step for Man; One Giant Leap for Mankind”

Let’s face it: NASA has not been the same since 1969.armstrongmoon

Neil Armstrong defied death, and made it to-and-from the moon with far less computing power than can be found in a modern-day smart phone. The first man on the moon had his ticker tape parade upon returning to Mother Earth. His place in the history books is cemented. Undoubtedly, his obits had already been written by the day the Grim Reaper came-a-calling in 2012.

In the face of competing budgetary demands and $18 trillion in record red ink and counting at $3.3 billion per day at the federal level, NASA has become just another agency with a huge public relations problem as it must justify its existence in the absence of any realistic plans to put humans on other planets anytime soon.

The current edition of National Geographic has a cover story about NASA, the New Horizons spacecraft, and hopefully the first ever photos of Pluto, expected on July 14. Checking out the last planet of the solar system is cool, but Armstrong walking on the moon was legendary.

Gone are the days of John F. Kennedy and the Cold War competition and the call to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Yes, we won that technology contest against the Soviet Union, and just 22 years after Armstrong walked on the moon, the USSR collapsed. Russia has hardly bothered us since then.

Not as momentous as the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on same-sex marriage or Neil Armstrong walking on the moon was an accomplishment dear to the heat of the author of Almost DailyBrett: The opening of the long closed Japan market to foreign designed-and-manufactured semiconductors, including those originating from Silicon Valley.siliconwafer

In my tenure as the director of communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and later as the director of corporate public relations for LSI Logic, yours truly worked for three years on this contentious issue.

At one time, Japan was in its ascendancy having driven Intel Corporation out of the DRAM (dynamic random access memory) market, a technology Intel actually invented. The U.S. semiconductor industry was being ushered into oblivion in the 1980s by Japan Inc.’s “Business is War” practices, the same fate that fell upon America’s pioneering color-TV industry.

The SIA and its members worked with Washington D.C. to stop predatory pricing or dumping of Japanese chips below cost, and finally pried open the Japanese market in 1996. The opening of  Japan and the decades-long recession eased the Japanese competitive threat. The U.S. industry achieved a great victory, but then … you guessed it … the question ensued: What was next for the SIA and its members?

Just like NASA, the SIA has tried one gambit after another to recapture its sense of purpose. The problem is that without an overriding issue (e.g., man on the moon, opening the Japan market), organizations and even individuals (e.g., General Patton when World War II ended) in many cases are never the same again.pattonscott

The war has been won. The cheering has subsided. The reality of what have you done lately ensues. An organization’s, movement’s, leader’s raison d’etre is no longer certain. A new public relations challenge comes to the forefront with no easy answers.

Some organizations, movements and leaders have successfully met the challenge of victory, while others face internal dissension as they struggle to come up with an answer to precisely what they should do for Act II.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gay-marriage-and-other-major-rulings-at-the-supreme-court/2015/06/25/ef75a120-1b6d-11e5-bd7f-4611a60dd8e5_story.html?wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/us/gay-rights-leaders-push-for-federal-civil-rights-protections.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

http://www.biography.com/people/neil-armstrong-9188943

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/632929-for-over-a-thousand-years-roman-conquerors-returning-from-the

 

 

 

To the author of Almost DailyBrett, hockey has become a spring/summer sport.

LOS ANGELES, CA JUNE 11, 2012 -- Center Brad Richardson kisses the cup after the  Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. ( Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

LOS ANGELES, CA JUNE 11, 2012 — Center Brad Richardson kisses the cup after the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. ( Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Forget the frozen pond.

Forget the Montreal Wanderers.

Forget the Toronto Arenas, winners of the first Stanley Cup in 1918.

Today there is the Winter Classic, a made for television event that over-glorifies just another regular season game, usually staged in a freezing football/baseball stadium at strategic times during the short-day/long-night winter months.

And every four years, the NHL shuts down for two weeks to permit its players to represent their respective countries in the Winter Olympics (e.g., Sochi 2014), and hopefully for the 2018 games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Both the Winter Classic and the Winter Olympics represent public relations victories for a league presided over by villain commissioner Gary Bettman, who seemingly was separated at birth from always fun-and-happy Harry Reid.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman listens as he meets with reporters after a meeting with team owners, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in New York.  The current collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players expires Saturday at midnight.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman listens as he meets with reporters after a meeting with team owners, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in New York. The current collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players expires Saturday at midnight. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The league most likely will never completely overcome the tarnish associated with the 2004-2005 lockout season, when no hockey was played and no Stanley Cup was awarded.

And yet the league now has three 10-figure franchises (i.e., Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens) and a reasonable $71 million salary cap for the 2015-2016 season. The average team is worth a respectable $490 million and only one-third are actually losing money, but you can be assured there always will be rich people who want to buy these teams.

Just as important, the NHL does a better job in staging its playoffs than any other professional sports league on the North America continent. The Stanley Cup finals begin this Wednesday, June 3 with the Chicago Black Hawks playing the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In a sense the Stanley Cup is the strength and the weakness of the No. 4 sport both north and south of the longest undefended border in the world. The NHL’s playoffs mean everything/the regular season virtually nothing.

Just ask the New York Rangers, the latest President’s Cup winners (regular season best record) to watch the Stanley Cup finals on HDTV.

Has anyone actually seen the President’s Cup?

The World Series vs. The Stanley Cup

Baseball, which used to be our national pastime until it was systematically usurped by college football in the late 20th Century, celebrates its so-called Fall Classic, the World Series, in which 30 teams from only two of the world’s nations are invited to participate (29 from the USA and one from Canada). Seriously, how can anybody call this overhyped best-of-seven, a “World Series.” Give us a break.

In contrast, football (UK), fussball (Germany) or futbol (Spain and Latin America) holds its real World Cup every four years, which is financed through a series of bribes, kickbacks and money laundering schemes from sheiks and oligarchs located in exotic locations (e.g., Russia, Qatar) spread across the shady corners of the planet. There are 32 teams from (gasp) 32 nations that are permitted to participate in a month-long tournament in which all the profits are sent to FIFA in Switzerland and its supreme leader, Kim Jong Un, … oops, Entschuldigung Sie, Sepp Blatter.

The NHL refreshingly does NOT declare that its champion is indeed the world champion. After all, only 23 USA teams and seven Canadien teams are eligible to play, so the NHL spares us the fallacy that its champion is a global Wunder.

Hoisting the cup is good enough.

Here are the reasons why the Stanley Cup is by far the best post-season in North American professional sports:handshakeline

  • There is a true salary cap in the NHL, which means that any of the 16 teams, which qualify for the playoffs, has a chance to win. The Los Angeles Kings were the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference in 2012 and rode a hot goaltender, Jonathan Quick, through a gauntlet of four-rounds without home ice to win the cup.
  • HDTV has been a Godsend to the NHL. Hockey with its small whizzing disc of vulcanized frozen rubber is not easy to follow on standard-definition television. And yet Emmy winner announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick and his mates are as good as any in capturing the excitement and raw force of ice hockey, and the game is much easier to watch on high definition.
  • A Canadien team has not won the cup since 1993 and that obviously is the case once again this year. Even though Canada invented the sport, it is not longer just a Canadien game. Hockey in many ways has become an American game. The NHL is considering its next round of expansion, and rumors are pointing to Las Vegas and Seattle, not Moose Jaw or Kamloops
  • When someone is checked into the boards, slashed, hooked, held, elbowed, cross-checked, interfered etc., the referees do not award free-throws (how wimpy). Nope the offender is sent to the penalty box, and a two-minute or longer power play unit takes on the penalty killers. Special teams all the way, baby.
  • A team going down three games to none in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is most likely toast, but not in every case. There are four NHL teams that have accomplished this feat of coming back from three down, the last being the Los Angeles Kings against the San Jose (cough, choke) Sharks in 2014. This feat has only been accomplished once in beisboll and never in the NBA.
  • The ceremonial handshake at the end of each series is more than just for show. These are real warriors who skate, check, scratch and claw … not including firing the puck … around the ice for as many as seven games, only to respect each other when all is said and done.
  • And then there is the cup. The winners get to skate the Stanley Cup, the Holy Grail of hockey. No sport does pageantry better than the NHL. Bettman is greeted with boos when he emerges to present the Conn Smythe to the playoffs’ best player, and then the cup to the champions. When the booing/cheering is over, each-and-every player will have his name inscribed on the 35-pound trophy, and a special day when the cup comes to his hometown regardless of where or how far.

Now that is something truly special to tell a granddaughter or son, sitting on your knee.

.http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?page=cupchamps11

http://www.forbes.com/nhl-valuations/list/

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/nhl-richest-teams-forbes-toronto-maple-leafs-montreal-canadiens-new-york-rangers-1-billion/

http://www.detroithockey.net/nhl/timeline.php

http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/12929596/commissioner-gary-bettman-expects-nhl-salary-cap-climb-71-million-2015-16

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Bettman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Cup

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Emrick

http://www.puckreport.com/2009/04/nhl-playoff-comebacks-trailing-3-0.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every fall game day, I have a sacred routine.

My pilgrimage starts by walking over the Willamette River knowing that one day my ashes will be thrown off the footbridge into the north flowing current. Soon thereafter I will be partying with friends in the Moshofsky Center (Oregon’s indoor practice facility). Then about 45 minutes before kickoff, it will be time to head into the game. And finally, the three hours-plus of intensity and passion that comes from a no-holds barred game in the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium.

autzen2

I have it all figured out, or do I?

My best friend’s son, who loves college football as much as me, will almost never go to a stadium, any stadium. Presumably, he begins his autumn Saturdays with ESPN’s “College Game Day,” followed by a series of jousts at noon Eastern, and then the first set of west coast contests at 3:30 pm Eastern, and then the featured Saturday night epics at 8 pm Eastern and finally the late West Coast bouts at 10:15 pm Eastern. To wrap it up, he checks out ESPN “Sports Center” to cap off the day.

Does he appreciate what he is missing? Or is it me who doesn’t know what I am missing?

This coming August 15, the Pac-12 Conference will join the other major conferences (e.g., Big 10) in debuting its own network, ensuring that every football, men’s and women’s basketball game of each conference school is televised in high definition with superior video and audio. As welcome as the universal access to all of your alma mater’s games may be, it brings up an obvious question:

Why go to the game?

When I first purchased my Oregon season seats, 15 rows behind the opponent’s bench near the 30-yard line back in 1990; maybe…just maybe…one Oregon game would be televised each year. ABC had a virtual hammer lock on college football and only televised the glamour teams, but that quickly changed with cable.

Even with that change, perhaps four or five Oregon games would be televised each year in standard definition and those were usually the games against teams from the large media markets (e.g., USC, UCLA, Washington, Stanford, Cal). Now all of the games are televised in high definition, including this year’s body-bag game with Tennessee Tech.

The ones-and-zeroes mastery of digital television teamed with telecommunication satellite technology and HDTV with LED, LCD and plasma screens resulted in a viewer experience that absolutely blows away standard definition. We can now actually see the puck during Stanley Cup playoffs. Many times the problem with progress is the unintended consequences.

Even the staid Economist this week noted that better television broadcasts combined with escalating ticket prices have resulted in the NFL seeing a drop off in its attendance.

This perfect storm has to cause even the most devoted fan (I qualify) to question spending $1,000 to participate in the Duck Athletic Fund (substitute your own school’s athletic supporter fund), and then spending $81 or more per seat for the best games (e.g., $345 each for the BCS National Championship game) for the privilege of standing up for the entire game in either 94-degree heat or 32-degree freezing temps. And let’s not forget the slow crawl home with 60,000-plus of your most intimate friends.

Sure, the live game includes marching bands with fight songs and ornamental cheer leaders or as the late (ABC college football announcer) Chris Schenkel said, “What better way to spend an autumn afternoon.” Well, there is an option even for the most devoted fan.

The alternative is the living room with superior sound and picture. The game is free. There is no line for the bathroom. It is easy to dash during a time out for your personal refrigerator. The networks provide replays of key plays for not only the game you are watching, but for all of the other big games. Heck, you can even watch two games at once with picture in picture technology.

espncamera

Maybe this conundrum has prompted many professional franchises and college athletic departments to go slow (e.g., Oregon) in expanding the capacity of their respective stadia or in certain cases actually reduced the capacity (e.g., Stanford). Too many seats (supply) can depress demand (fans), while too few seats (supply) may stimulate demand (fans). Call this the Beanie Baby effect.

Perfect examples in beisboll are the Chicago Cubs (e.g., Wrigley Field), the Boston Red Sox (e.g., Fenway Park) and the San Francisco Giants (e.g., AT&T Park). In contrast, the Oakland Athletics have too many seats in the Oakland Coliseum, prompting the franchise to cover whole sections with embarrassing tarps. How’s that for “Money Ball?”

Oregon has sold out every game at 54,000 seat Autzen Stadium (60,000 with standing room) since 1999. And as long as the Ducks keep winning (e.g., three straight conference championships and three straight BCS bowl games), Oregon fans will pack Autzen even when Tennessee Tech comes a calling. But what happens (and it’s inevitable) when some sub par seasons creep into the mix? It wasn’t that long ago when the Ducks were weak sisters and they were not seen as ultra cool. I don’t want to see a fall off, but I have to be reasonable.

Will hardy fans be tempted to follow their team (and college football in general) by means of the superior quality and convenience of HDTV? The Pac-12 network will reportedly bring up to $30 million in additional revenue to each of the dozen schools in the conference. That is good news to the green eyeshade crowd. One must wonder long term whether this influx of cash will be counterbalanced by dwindling attendance in the face of high ticket prices and awesome high definition sound and picture.

Doesn’t that sound like an unintended consequence?

http://www.economist.com/node/21555606

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Schenkel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-12_Network

http://blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports/2012/05/20/pac-12-network-what-it-worth-heres-one-projection/

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/budwithers/2018252077_withers21.html

http://world.ty.com/catalog/catPage.cfm?status=Current&lineid=3

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