Reputation Management Commentary

Melky Cabrera: Digital Marketing Disaster

Last week, I wrote that Melky Cabrera must rebuild his brand.

Over on LinkedIn, Gail Sideman, Owner of PUBLISiDE commented:

Cabrera tweeted and issued a statement of guilt within an hour of his suspension being made public (that alone puts him in a club with few members). While he didn’t elaborate on why he took PEDs, I think he’s smart to take a day or two away from media. He cheated, he let his team down and tarnished Major League Baseball as the reigning All-Star MVP. He needs to get his public persona in-check before he says another word. The first ones were welcome and fresh. As far as his brand, that will be forever tarnished. There will be many that question his numbers for as long as he plays baseball.

I still haven’t seen the Tweet and have asked Gail to clarify. A Google search for it returns nothing.

I don’t agree that his brand will be forever tarnished. Americans have the attention span of a gnat and can quickly overlook transgressions.

Manny Ramirez is remembered much more for being goofy and off the wall (Manny being Manny) than for his two PED pops.

That said, Cabrera certainly isn’t doing himself any favors and just created the cardinal sin of marketing.

He got caught trying to manipulate the public.

In case you missed it, in an effort to beat the rap on his 50-game suspension, Melky and his “associates” devised a scheme that included purchasing a website for $10,000, making this website appear to sell a fake product and pretending Melky purchased and used the product, unaware that it contained a banned substance.

To be fair, Cabrera’s agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, say they had no knowledge of the deception and had nothing to do with it. That designation falls to Juan Nunez, a consultant (not employee) of the Levinsons’ company (Athletes’ Career Enhanced and Secured, Inc.).

Juan Nunez is NOT a salaried employee of ACES and does NOT receive the benefits that all ACES employees receive,” Levinson said. “Most importantly, any and all calls, texts and emails that he sends come from his own PERSONAL devices (BlackBerry).

I sincerely doubt, however, that Nunez acted on this without consulting someone. Cabrera, ACES or otherwise, and if not, Nunez just committed career suicide.

Now, though, Cabrera is left holding the bag, and now, more than ever needs to rebuild his brand.

But not yet.

Right now, he needs to disappear for a while. A long while. Let other news happen.

When he re-emerges, it should be around a nobile cause or other philanthropic endeavor free from self-promotion.

Then, he needs to slowly engage with his fans – become known for something other than a lying, deceitful cheater.

But that’s a long road to walk.

Should sports agents teach university classes?

The University of North Carolina needs another scandal like I need another electric bill.

In July 2010, it was reported that the UNC program was being investigated by the NCAA due to possible connections with sport agents.

The football program was also under investigation for academic fraud and a failure to properly monitor players, which the NCAA found to be true.

Seven players from the UNC football program, including starters and once top recruits Greg Little and Marvin Austin, were reported to have accepted more than $27,000 in impermissible benefits in 2009 and 2010.

Following an NCAA investigation into misconduct, in July 2011, head coach Butch Davis was fired and replaced by interim coach Everett Withers. Also, in September 2011, the program decided to vacate all its wins from the 2008 and 2009 seasons, reduce its scholarship athletes by 3, begin serving two years of probation, and pay a $50,000 fine.

The NCAA later increased the penalties to a reduction of athletic scholarships by 15, three years of probation, and a post-season ban of one year.

Now, apparently, UNC and football agent, Carl Carey (of Champion Pro Consulting Group, Inc) face suspicion because the school hired Carey to teach a class at the university.

Julius Nyang’oro hired Carey to teach a month-long course called Foundations of Black Education in the first summer semester. Carey is a former adjunct professor and academic adviser to football players who left the university in 2002 and started a business advising athletes looking to turn pro.

He became an agent three years later, and today represents one of UNC’s biggest gridiron stars: Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers.

Carey’s return to campus was a problem for UNC’s athletic department, which quickly alerted its academic advisers to not recommend his class. John Blanchard, a senior associate athletic director, said the department did not know Carey had been hired until after the fact.

News & Observer

So, should sports agents teach university classes?

Absolutely.

Sports agents have a plethora of real-world knowledge an insight – something that’s often missing from university classrooms.

However, in the case of UNC and Carey, it’s not as simple as that.

First off, UNC needs to realize it has an image problem. The Tarheels aren’t subject to the normal rules because of their perception following the NCAA investigation and subsequent probation.

UNC has to go above and beyond to repair their image, and this doesn’t help.

For Carey, the situation is a bit more complicated because of a website he allegedly created to smear the News & Observer over the paper’s reporting of the incident.

Dan Kane, a reporter at the Raleigh News & Observer, has been doing a terrific job covering the UNC academic scandal. Here’s his latest piece. He’s done such a good job, someone anonymously created, “Dirty Dan Kane” in an effort to smear him. The creator of the site rants about ethics and wants readers to write the paper and get Kane off the story.

So who created the site?

According to whois.com, the creator of the site is … drumroll please … a man named Carl Carey of Houston, Texas. The website was created on June 8, 2012.

What a coincidence! Guess who is the agent for Julius Peppers? A man named Carl Carey! Guess who was the tutor for Peppers at UNC? A man named Carl Carey! Guess who was exposed by Dan Kane in August of last year? Carl Carey!

big lead sports

For his part, Carey staunchly denies creating the website, but it does bring up the concept of negative marketing, which is a rampant practice and one we don’t advocate for this very reason.

If you launch a stealth, negative campaign, you have to assume that your involvement will be uncovered, and trying to trick the public can be one of the most damaging things you can do to your brand.