Le’Veon Bell’s Fall from Grace

Hailed as one of the best running backs in the league, Le’Veon Bell was looking for a record-breaking contract from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both sides could not come to an agreement this past offseason, leading to a franchise tag being put on Bell (a one-year contract that makes Bell the highest paid player at his position). There’s only one problem: Le’Veon bell has yet to sign the contract. It is unclear when, or if, Bell plans to end his holdout. One thing has been made clear in the past week, and it is that the financial implications for both parties could be drastic.

Bell’s franchise-tag tender is worth $14.544 million. For each week that Bell sits out, he is forfeiting about $855,000 per game (CBS Sports). To put that into perspective, Bell’s current replacement, and former University of Pittsburgh star back James Conner, is slated to make a little over $750,000 for the entire season. (Sportrac)

Bell 1.png

In week one against the Browns, Conner matched Bells single-game high from 2017 in total yards at 192. As far as the running back position goes, the Steelers felt more than comfortable moving forward into week 2 with second year back Conner. Bell’s teammates have said just as much, calling Bell out for not reporting to the team before their first game against longtime rival Cleveland Browns.

As for the salary cap as a whole, the Steelers are in a little bit of a predicament. Since they planned on paying Le’Veon all of his $14.544 million contract, they are now left with more money than anticipated. What they do from here likely depends on when Bell decides to show up, if at all. The longer his holdout, the more likely it is that the Steelers make a move from outside of the organization to bring in talent to help make a push for their seventh Lombardi trophy.

bell 2.jpg

As someone who has followed Bell through his career as a citizen and fan of Pittsburgh, I can say that the mood concerning the running back has drastically changed over the past couple of weeks. Bell was still in good grace with the city. They still felt that Bell was their guy. That opinion changed when Bell decided to extend his holdout into the regular season. Losing his teammates trust, Bell has turned heel on the city, the one he once claimed to want to retire in. Teammates and fans alike are now rallying around Conner, and why wouldn’t they? A hometown hero who battled back from a fight against Hodgkins-Limphoma in

 2016, he has a background that anyone could take inspiration from.

Le’Veon is slated to miss out on a lot of money. Ideally for Bell, he would make it through this season healthy, and then go out and test the free agent market, signing with a new team for the 2019 season. But at the cost of $850,000 per game, Bell is likely to rejoin the team at some point, especially since he has to sign by week 11, or suffer another year of being a restricted free agent under the Steelers (triblive).

Regardless, Bell’s recent decisions have had a major impact on the market as a whole for running backs in the NFL. Whether or not he gets as much money as he wants with another team remains to be seen. Bell most recently turned down the Steelers five-year deal that had over $30 million guaranteed over the first two years of the deal (sbnation). The Steelers are in a position where it is hard to see them continuing their efforts to sign him after the events of the past week. Now, Bell looks to find a new home in 2019. Until then, Fans and fantasy owners alike are hoping for the return of one of the most electrifying backs in the league. But don’t expect his return to be a heartwarming one in Pittsburgh, regardless of if he’s in the Black and Gold or not.

 

 

 

Sources:

 

https://triblive.com/sports/steelers/14069628-74/leveon-bell-spotted-partying-in-miami-as-steelers-prep-for-chiefs

 

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/leveon-bell-officially-off-of-steelers-depth-chart-as-his-franchise-tag-remains-unsigned/

 

https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers/cap/

 

https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2018/7/16/17527698/leveon-bell-pittsburgh-steelers-franchise-tag-deadline-contract

 

 

Nike Demonstrates Social Consciousness in Latest Ad Campaign

Nike has long been one of the most recognizable American companies and is currently the most valuable sports brand in the world. The firm has cemented its market share through innovative advertising campaigns and partnerships with professional athletes. Nike has produced Michael Jordan’s iconic Air Jordan line since 1984, catapulting the company to success and other prominent signings like Lebron James, Tiger Woods, and Serena Williams. These partnerships with star athletes across various sports have become the cornerstone for their continuous success in the sportswear market.

Additionally, Nike has employed various advertising campaigns throughout its history. Nike’s best campaign, and one of the more successful advertising plans of the last 30 years, is the “Just Do It” slogan. The motto was coined in 1988 and by 1998 Nike had already increased its market share in the athletic shoes industry from 18% to 43%.The campaign is still in use today because of its effectiveness, and the 30thanniversary is being celebrated this year. With this anniversary, Nike has decided to bet the farm this year with a campaign that has already sparked mass outrage and public unapproved. Nike has signed another professional athlete to star in the latest edition of the “Just Do It” campaign, yet this person has been the center of controversy for nearly two years.

He is Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who has not played a professional game since he began protesting the oppression of African-Americans by kneeling during the singing of the national anthem. His protests have long been one of the most controversial stories in all of sports and in the United States. The issue is one of the most polarizing, with many taking sides on whether it is right to not stand for our country’s national anthem. President Trump and many others have disapproved of Kaepernick’s protest, saying that it shows disrespect to cops and soldiers that serve our country by putting their lives on the line for the flag and freedom. However, Kaepernick has inspired plenty of his peers, as numerous athletes across multiple sports have knelt in protest during the anthem at their matches. Kaepernick was never signed to a team after the 2016 season, which he argues is collusion between the NFL owners, yet plenty of other NFL players continued his protests in lieu of his absence. The television ratings for the NFL subsequently dropped, causing President Trump and others to call for the NFL to put an end to the protests.

Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem before a San Francisco 49ers game.

Despite the declining ratings, protests did not stop. Colin Kaepernick is still without a job, but his activism has not stopped. He is still a leading force of change and a public figure many people admire or hate. He is one of the most polarizing people of today. And he is now the face of Nike’s latest “Just Do It” anniversary campaign. With so much controversy and public outrage towards him, why would Nike make this move? Two main components come to mind: the globalization of Nike and an emotional appeal.

           Nike was created in the United States, but the company operates on a global scale. Although North America is the largest purchaser of Nike products, the rest of the world still accounts for over half of all revenue for Nike. Despite the NFL’s efforts in recent years to expand the sport outside of the United States, football is not a popular worldwide sport. NFL athletes are not as well recognized compared to soccer and cricket stars on the international stage. Because of this, Colin Kaepernick’s lack of professional athletic employment does not matter as much as it would to NFL fans in the United States who would much rather have great players star in the campaign, like Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr. Despite the opportunities to partner with more skilled players, Nike strategically chose to work with Kaepernick because of his protests and high-profile. Outside of the United States, Colin Kaepernick is seen as an athlete using his platform to promote positive change. He is a champion for civil rights and the fair treatment of people of color. People across the seas often perceive the US to be very racist, and for logical reasons. Seeing Nike choose a person of color fighting for a just cause as the lead for their “Just Do It” campaign might sway those outside of the US to purchase Nike over competitors like Adidas and Reebok. Additionally, there are plenty of people in the United States who also agree with Colin Kaepernick’s stance and would support Nike.

NIKE STORE
Nike’s online sales have increased 31% since the release of their new advertisements.

The company appealed to the emotional side of consumers with this choice. During the first ad released for the campaign, Kaepernick states “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.” The video urges the viewer to act on their dreams while showcasing athletes with disabilities playing their sport of choice. “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy,” Kaepernick says, “ask if they’re crazy enough.” The ad is filled with emotional appeals to the viewer. Nike is succeeding in creating an association in the consumer’s mind that they are a socially conscious company. The slogan “Just Do It” is being directed towards the viewer’s dreams to make them have an emotional response to the advertisement. For such a drastic decision, Nike clearly demonstrated a well thought out and strategic plan in regards to the 30th anniversary campaign for the motto.  

In the week since the announcement, plenty has happened in regards to this campaign. Iconic Nike swooshes have been cut from socks, the President tweeted, Nike’s stock drastically dropped with the news, and online sales increased by 31%, causing to the stock price to rise back up to only ten cents below its price right before the announcement. It has been a rollercoaster of a week for the company, but it must have planned for this. Nike is the leader in its industry and would not have made such a polarizing political stance unless it knew the decision would pay off. The company recognized its global scale and decided to risk using Colin Kaepernick in order to benefit from the emotional appeal he would provide for many consumers. With this move, it will be interesting to see what the company does down the line in regards to political stances, and what its competitors will do in response.

https://www.forbes.com/pictures/mlm45jemm/1-nike/#3d346763314e

https://udocstore.nl/docs/b0c524/mini-case-study-nike-s-%2522just-do-it%2522-advertising-campaign-center-for-applied-research

https://www.businessinsider.com/nfl-ratings-faced-steeper-declines-in-2017-2018-1

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/21035352/colin-kaepernick-files-grievance-nfl-owners-collusion

https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/912280282224525312?lang=en

https://www.statista.com/statistics/241692/nikes-sales-by-region-since-2007/

https://twitter.com/johnrich/status/1036751396002050050?lang=en

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/nikes-online-sales-jumped-31-after-company-unveiled-kaepernick-campaign-2018-09-07

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1037334510159966214

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-grjIUWKoBA

Startups and Streaming: An Interview with the Founders of Beathey

The startup culture in Argentina is still growing, but Julian Sorsaburu, CEO and one of the founders of Beathey, feels they are entering at just the right time. Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Beathey is a music streaming service, record label, and booking agent for emerging electronic music artists in Argentina. I have been interning with Beathey for a few weeks now here in Argentina, and I recently had the chance to sit down with the three founders, Gabriel Santana, Miguel Warlies, and Sorsaburu, to discuss not only the company’s objectives, but also the music culture and startup culture that is rapidly expanding in Argentina.

Beathey was born in 2017, and each founder stressed that it is a company tailored towards the artists. Sorsaburu feels that for music artists today, Beathey offers unique services. “Today music is more accessible, and there are more opportunities for artists to be discovered,” Sorsaburu said, adding, “There is a need for the music industry to change, and to reinvent itself, which is good for emerging artists.”

A Changing Industry

In recent years, the music industry in both Argentina and the United States has seen positive growth, with most people pointing to music streaming as a main driver of this growth. Cary Sherman, CEO of Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), expressed similar sentiments as Sorsaburu, saying, “The pace of change embraced by record labels is staggering. Just two years ago, digital downloads was the largest format, and streaming was only beginning to take hold. Fast forward a few short years, and the business is already dramatically different.”

music graph

Argentina music streaming saw $43.7 million (USD) revenue in 2017, and 2018 revenue is expected to exceed $50 million. Average revenue per user was $5.78 last year and will likely exceed $6 this year. While this is a far way off from US streaming numbers, which by far leads the world with a staggering $6.4 billion in expected revenue for 2018, both predicted growth rates are nearly identical, with Argentina at 5.4% and the US at 5.5% for 2018-2022.

What do these numbers mean for music? For one, it means upcoming artists are more likely to be discovered. Today, streaming service users have access to millions of songs, with many of them offering clever algorithms to help you discover new music that you’ll like. Despite this, the Beathey team feels that their model helps upcoming artists in a way that the bigger streaming services cannot.

Beathey: Fostering the Music Community

I asked the founders of Beathey to describe their company, and Miguel Warlies said, “Beathey is a streaming platform for emerging electronic music artists. This year we launched ‘Beathey Recordings’ because of the possibility to find new talents, and to bring these talents to the world.” Beathey Recordings is expected to have 30 tracks by September, all from the most talented artists discovered on the streaming platform. Sorsaburu added that Beathey also produces events and is a booking agent for artists as well. Incredibly, Beathey’s model allows its artists to retain 100% of the music rights and 100% of income from music sales.

I asked how their services differ from those of a traditional music streaming site, and Sorsaburu explained, saying, “The major difference is that the majority of music platforms for artists require you to be a recording artist. If not, you have to work with an organizer to be added to platforms or events. Here, the artist can have a channel to increase his or her material, and to be able to keep all the rights. The artist can work with our system to have the possibility for other people to know them and support them, without the intervention of a middleman.” An emerging artist at Beathey can not only be discovered easier but has more opportunities. Traditional record labels in the music industry typically only discover new artists with big investments and with a big team, whereas Beathey’s platform supports any artist.

1568-2446-2

For non-artists, listeners can stream music for free, or, subscribe to Premium for $10 a month. This allows users to participate in their Vinyl Contest. The Vinyl Contest allows users to vote for their favorite electronic tracks, and the top 4 songs with the most votes every 4 months will have their own vinyl produced by Beathey, and all Premium members will receive copies. Premium members also receive benefits at events and on their online store. Of course, you must also be Premium to be able to post your own tracks to the site. Currently, over 850 tracks have been uploaded to Beathey, and there are over 1,000 registered users and 250 subscribers.

The thing the Beathey team seemed most proud of was their sense of community and collaboration. “We are a community that is talking about collaborative concepts, because the community that we have can begin to decide who has potential,” Sosaburu added. He feels the existing music industry is not as collaborative, and that they can use the community they have formed to analyze information and detect talent.

A Rich Platform for Electronic Music Culture

To find out more about this music community and why Beathey specializes in electronic music, I talked to Beathey artist and contributor Nico Beldi. Beldi described electronic music in Argentina as massive, and that it has a “very rich platform,” although he also acknowledged that “maybe there is a connection that lacks culture, that lacks information.” He feels that Beathey enters into the industry well “because it is not just a record label, it is a community where artists can get to know each other and collaborate.” He has investigated the scene for a long time and says that with Beathey you will see a different community.

1568-2495-2

The Startup Culture in Argentina

Of course, in its current state, Beathey is still just a startup. I spoke to Beathey investor Antonio Macadam about startups in Argentina, and he expressed a lot of optimism, but did say the system is still being constructed and needs more time. “There are events in the world that are happening in Latin America for the first time,” Macadam said, adding, “but there is a long way to go.” He said that lots of businesses here are advancing quickly, and he has seen a lot of projects like Beathey that have created a big impact. To help startups in Argentina, Sanguinetti said the number of people and the level of investment needs to be broadened. He also added that contributing what you can helps a lot, saying, “there is always the power to contribute something.” Warlies had similar thoughts, commenting, “There are more advanced systems with investment and more possibilities for startups here.”

Luckily for startups and entrepreneurs in Argentina, the Argentine Senate passed the ‘Entrepreneur’s Law’ last year, designed to open up the country’s economy and place the country back on the global market by providing new approval and financial procedures. This included measures aimed to increase investment activity, providing reasonable tax breaks for those hoping to invest in startups. It also makes crowdfunding platforms easier to register, which should help, as Sanguinetti highlighted the importance of crowdfunding to startups in the area and around the world.

Image result for buenos aires

I also had the chance to ask the General Coordinator, who for publicity reasons cannot be named, of IncuBAte, the official incubation program of Buenos Aires City Government to which Beathey is a member of, a few questions about new and innovative businesses in Argentina. IncuBAte today has ten distinct categories such as Social, Design, and Technology and can offer new businesses benefits such as financial assistance, mentors and advisors, networking, and in some cases a working space. I asked what the most common problem is for these new businesses, to which they said, “the most common from my point of view have to do with prioritizing and focusing on which questions to start answering, and the link to market.”

IncuBAte is a program that lasts eleven months, but the idea, according to the Coordinator, is to stay connected, saying, “we consider this to be very valuable for networking.” For now, IncuBAte is still growing, but they said, “in the future we will see IncuBAte as a great community where lots of businesses are included.”

IncuBAte has seen many examples of businesses, such as Beathey, that have grown a lot under the program. Fivi, another IncuBAte startup, provides “virtual lines” for businesses that can alert clients when the product is ready. Initially believing restaurants were their target, during the incubation process they realized it was banks and medical clinics. IncuBAte validated the proposal and helped Fivi define these clients. Today they have evolved into a much larger company and work with two medical clinics.

The Coordinator says IncuBAte works as a multiplicator. “We believe in great team founders with concrete and scalable projects that resolve actual problems aligned to the sustainable development goals, and we help them thrive.” However, they acknowledged some difficulties, saying, “As a public incubator, we are in the first stage, where risk is the highest.”

The community and family culture is the major difference between Argentina’s IncuBAte and the United States’ Small Business Association (SBA). While on the surface, SBA provides the same services; capital, information, and assistance, it lacks the true ability to connect people with similar ideas together. While admittedly there are plenty of other incubation programs in the United States, none are funded by the US government. That being said, SBA was founded in 1953 and is well established, and IncuBAte is still relatively new, so it will be interesting to follow its growth.

While the cultures of Argentina and the United States may be different, I have seen that both countries have people with brilliant ideas trying to take the next step forward amidst similar challenges. While the current US government appears to be more protectionist at the moment, I hope to see more collaboration with other countries such as Argentina in the future.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Beathey, you can visit their website at beathey.com/en or find them on Facebook and Instagram at @RevolucionBeathey.

 

Sources:

https://medium.com/@RIAA/the-state-of-music-mid-way-through-2017-7e90cad298f9

https://www.forbes.com/sites/hughmcintyre/2017/09/21/streaming-continues-to-power-the-music-industrys-growth-at-2017s-halfway-point/#1975ec1a404e

https://www.statista.com/outlook/209/114/music-streaming/argentina#

https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/21/argentinas-government-is-wooing-entrepreneurs-with-a-new-law/