Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, December 12, 2021

short-timin'
There must be something in the water around here.

Yesterday, while absently pondering the NHLPA’s proposed collective bargaining agreement counteroffer, centerpieced by a one-time 24 percent salary rollback, I wondered about the league’s options in the way of response. One of the things that crossed my mind was a compromise position, where the NHL accepts that offer, thus abandoning their salary cap/non-guaranteed contract position, in exchange for an extremely short contract term for this new CBA. That way, the owners would get something like the cost-certainty they wanted, then would be able to revisit the issue in a couple of years.

Today, while reading the paper, I see that one Greg Fudala of Largo proposes the same compromise concept (2nd letter down).

So is this an option, agreeing on a two-year CBA just for the sake of getting the game going again?

In a word: No.

Normally, related business factors would favor the formulation of a shorty agreement. At the moment, the NHL’s television deals for both broadcast network and cable basically cover two seasons. Since the television guys prefer to have their contracts coincide with periods of guaranteed labor peace, a two-year deal would work out neatly for the league.

But that’s about the only incentive, and it’s not enough. Agreeing to such a short duration only would serve to delay the fight. In two years, the same issues would have to be hashed over again; if anything, the owners would only demand an additional rollback in salaries by the players at that time, a condition that would get a chilly reception.

Additionally, a two-year CBA would, functionally, amount to a one-year CBA. The final year of such an agreement is spent in posturing by both owners and players, since they’re both anticipating a different economic landscape and rules in the near future. That was the case last season in the NHL (typified by one- and two-year contracts, at lower salaries). In practical terms, there would be no real stop to the negotiations in a new deal — it would just prolong the process toward a more complete solution.

Generally, both sides in a CBA prefer to hammer out a fairly long-term system, precisely because renegotiations tend to be so protracted. That’s also why built-in extension clauses are so often activated (take note of the two extensions the NHL and NHLPA agreed upon in the last CBA).

So, if an extremely short-term deal is out of the question, what about a slightly longer one? A five-year deal, without extensions, might be an option (or, alternately, a three- or four-year deal with additional-year extensions). I could see it as one way for the owners to step back (momentarily) from their intransigent salary-cap position. They’d have to be convinced that they could demonstrate how much money they continue to lose under any system other than a cap, and we could very well be in the same fix after this transitional CBA expired. If the goal is to get the games back on the ice, it would be worth it; but ultimately, it would just be time-shifting the fight by a couple of years.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/12/2021 09:17:59 PM
Category: Hockey
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In a potential foreshadowing of a shift in global political and economic influence, advances in agronomy and land reform are turning South America into a new breadbasket. Brazil is the main stage for this transformation, but neighboring countries are also benefitting.

Why does this matter? A key part of the United States’ rise to hegemony in the 20th Century was its abundance of food products. Using surplus food as a bargaining chip is a huge advantage when dealing with the developing world. Feeding hungry mouths overseas creates political capital, which helps secure entry into those markets. America’s dominant advantage in this area has been a given for so many decades that it’s just taken for a given now.

Competition from Latin America in food exports represents a challenge in the international arena. As countries in Asia and Africa further develop in the 21st Century, they may have options other than the U.S. and its standard food-aid packages. If Brazil or Argentina supplants American influence in those zones, they can help promote markets for companies based in their countries. Suddenly, it’s a race for resources and markets.

None of this would occur in a vacuum, of course. Ties between Washington and Latin America are strong, and being strengthened by formal trade treaties and informal ties. Other players like Europe, China and Japan also factor in. And cooperative initiatives could prevail over direct confrontations. Still, developments like this always hold the possibility of fundamental new courses, which could manifest themselves dramatically in American society over the next quarter-century.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/12/2021 07:04:53 PM
Category: Food, Political, Science
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With each new condominium project that’s announced in downtown St. Petersburg, I keep wondering the same thing: Where are they going to find all the people required to fill those thousands of units?

Maybe I shouldn’t strain my brain over it. Condos are sprouting up all over the city, and there seems to be no danger of oversaturation.

Of course, what’s announced and what’s reality don’t always coincide. Plans are easy to publicize, and they serve the purpose of gauging market interest and prodding governmental cooperation. That doesn’t mean the concrete and steel will necessarily ever go up. And even when it does, there’s no guarantee that the buildings will all get filled. I work in downtown St. Pete, and I’d even consider moving there myself for the right deal; but I’ve already seen a few condo projects sitting empty or still-born (particularly those without a waterfront view), and I’m sure several of the ones currently in the works will never go anywhere.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/12/2021 06:19:13 PM
Category: Florida Livin'
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Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed new TV ads running for consumer electronics chain Sound Advice. As you’ll notice if you click through to their website, Sound Advice is owned by Tweeter Home Entertainment Group; and in fact, the TV spots I’ve seen have noted the affiliation.

My question: Since Tweeter intends to mothball the Sound Advice name by next year in favor of the Tweeter brand for all its stores, why are they blowing marketing dollars on this new campaign? Especially since Tweeter is rolling out a brand-new “Entertainment Architects” campaign to further promote the expanded company.

I’ve noticed a similar tack was taken by Cingular with regards to its acquisition, AT&T Wireless. Earlier this year, for several months after the merger between the two companies was completed, advertising for AT&T Wireless continued to be introduced, despite the intent of replacing the brand with Cingular’s. I was scratching my head over that, too. (More recently, new ads finally have been rolled out that publicly announced the combination of the two services.)

In both cases, it doesn’t make much sense. The usual goals for a marketing campaign — building name recognition, growing the customer base — simply don’t apply for brands that are slated for the axe. If anything, I’d think the preferred course would be to de-emphasize the departing names, not giving them a boost (however temporary) through new ads.

The only thing I can think of is that the acquiring companies want to squeeze out an extra little bit of equity from the established company names. Even this strikes me as a negative play, or even a bait-and-switch. Assuming a potential customer would never consider going with Cingular (or Tweeter) because of bad associations, and therefore would look more favorably toward AT&T Wireless (or Sound Advice), it’s a shaky consumer pickup: It relies on ignorance on upcoming operating procedure, and will probably result in a pissed-off customer after the transition is completed.

Another possibility is that there were already campaigns in the pipeline before both mergers were announced and completed, and rather than burn off that money, decisions were made to use them. That doesn’t seem terribly likely, given the timeframes in each case (several months, ample time to adjust for advertising and marketing plans).

I don’t pretend to know everything about the ad/marketing business, and I guess this is one area I’m in the dark about. That two different acquisition/merger situations would result in similar marketing disconnect indicates some sort of strategic thinking that I’m overlooking. If the likely-imminent Sprint-Nextel wireless merger produces the same sort of thing, then I’ll really be curious.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/12/2021 06:09:05 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business
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one pimpin' grille

“Kelly was all up in Vick’s grille.”

So spaketh Kevin Harlan, NFL play-by-play announcer for CBS, several minutes ago during today’s Atlanta Falcons-Oakland Raiders game. (To clarify, it was Oakland defensive tackle Tommy Kelly who was all up in the grille of Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick.)

I suppose it’s only a matter of time now before John Madden starts using it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/12/2021 02:11:55 PM
Category: Football, Pop Culture, TV
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That’s right, the dubiously-useful spork — which I left behind circa 6th grade — now has some competition in the two-in-one utensil arena. The Knork is a fork with serrated or sharpened outer tines, obviating the need for a knife.

Just think of all the space you can save in your cutlery drawer, after you’ve disposed of your knives!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/12/2021 01:38:02 PM
Category: General
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