I want to start this off clean.  I’m in sales.  And if you are in sales and you’ve been around for a while you tend to have an inherent distrust of marketers and “brand” people.  Sales is where the rubber meets the road.  If you’ve got a good product it sells, marketing be damned.  I you’ve got a bad product (or it’s overpriced), no amount of marketing (now called “activation”), and no amount of branding (No matter how clever or authentic it is) is going to make that pig move.

So forgive me if I am a little skeptical going into this, even if, yes, on the surface I get the concept of Pitt Football hiring a brand consultant to help it’s young men develop a coherent personal brand strategy.

The good news is that a number of Pitt players do have a good product.  Jaylen Twyman is an All-American.  Good product.  Pitt’s defensive line combined to be top-10 in sacks.  Good product.  Patrick Jones is poised to be a first round draft pick if he lives up to his potential this year.  Good product.  Paris Ford and Damar Hamlin are arguably the best safety tandem in the country.  Good product.  Jimmy Morrissey is a former walk-on turned all-conference player.  Good product.

So yea, there is some talent to work with, but the question, remains, is this Darlow guy legit?  The world is full of fly-by-night marketers who ride on in and take your money without actually adding value.

And so, as a 20 year veteran of corporate america, who currently holds a position in a fortune 500 company that is roughly the same in responsibility as Darlow’s Director-level corporate credential, I’m going to give you my assessment.

First the credentials.   Darlow was Director of Marketing for Adidas right before he ostensibly quit after his book deal.   I a half-notch below that in title, but I manage a $100 million dollar business, that is part of a $1 Billion division of an $8 Billion company, and I go toe-to-toe with marketing directors every single week.

I wanted to get a feel for how Darlow got where he is today, so I looked at his Linked In profile.  I’ve pasted it below, so you can judge his career path for yourself (I included only his corporate career, because you can read about his publishing and coaching exploits just about anywhere.)   I’ve also added some commentary in case you just want to take my judgments instead of forming your own.

Darlow HeaderDarlow AddidasDarlow Linked In 2Darlow 3Darlow 4

My thoughts on this?  Solid.  His early experience was probably just an “I need a job” play given his sports marketing background.  But you know what?  Retail teaches you a lot about business (and branding for that matter).  He also did a nice job of leveraging his retail store experience into retail branding experience, an then working towards his career goals. Smart guy.

So he does an internship in retail – Nordstrom- in the store.  And then leverages that into a corporate marketing position in a lower-tier retailer (Meryvn’s), but at least he’s doing the job he went to school for. Then he moves over to software (Ubisoft) and to be clear – GAMING software – which for most in my generation is a dream job.  Again, he moves up the value chain – Now he’s an associate brand manager – but if I had to read between the lines, video games aren’t his passion, and he’s out in two years, and moves into the beer business.  Well I’m never going to fault anyone for going into the beer business, even if they don’t stay there that long (1 year), because it tells me that this guy likes beer, and I think we can all agree there is nothing wrong with that.  Of course he may have also left the beer business because he landed the crown jewel…a foot in the door at Adidas.  This had to be a double bonus for Darlow, not only was it a marketing position for a major sportswear company, but it’s a direct competitor to his Alma Mater’s (Oregon State) benefactor, Nike.  Well played Mr. Darlow, well played.

Darlow advanced quickly at Adidas, putting in two-to-three years before promotion.  (The rule in my company is a minimum of 18 months in position, and two-three years before a major promotion is good progress).  Getting to Director in just less than six years, with little prior major sportswear company experience tells us that Darlow is either a) really talented, or b) really good at playing the game.  I would guess that he is  little bit of both.

And at the end of the day, playing the game is what sports marketing and branding is really about.  You can be the most talented dude (or dudet) on the team in a corporate environment but if you don’t know how to navigate the waters above and below you, craft your message and burnish your internal brand (mind you, you ALWAYS have to deliver no matter how good a story teller you are) you’re just not going to advance.

So that gave me some confidence in Darlow as a teacher and mentor to the members of our football team.

But I still wanted to know more.

So I dug a little deeper.

And I turned up this podcast:

You have to skip to about 17 mins in to get to the Darlow interview (16:55 to be exact).  You should give it a listen, but here are some things that stood out for me:

  1.  The average NFL career is 3.5 years.  78% of NFL players go bankrupt in their first two years out of the league.  “The reality is we care about you while you’re playing sport, and in most cases you are forgotten after, and I just think that is unfair, and it is a bit of a travesty”
  2. “My hope is that athletes can take the lessons from the book and they can see that there is a massive opportunity to use the platform that they have while they are playing sports in order to build equity into another area”
  3. [after question about Peyton Manning and Phil Mickelson who have never gotten on to social media] “If i’m honest i’m not writing this book for Peyton Manning or Phil Mickelson.  The point for me is to help those 98% of athletes that don’t make it to the pro level.  That’s the stat that’s so staggering that I don’ think we understand as fans…and I think athletes think the same way.  They don’t recognize that only 2% of them are going to make the pro level, so for me the book is about
  4. “The crux of everything that I’ve done and everything that I continue to do from a brand perspective starts and stops with a positioning statement.”
  5. “At the very least, if you’re not going to read the book, think about what makes yourself different, and think about what’s authentic to you and build against that and be consistent with a message that people will start to identify with”

There is more, and you can listen to it all, especially since you are probably housebound.   My impressions were that Darlow came across as extremely authentic, and he is certainly focusing on an under-served niche.  If you think about Pitt Football’s brand positioning…High Academic APR.  Smart players, who develop and earn what they get on the field, Darlow’s message makes sense.  Add in Pitt’s best-in-class life skills department, and well, Pitt’s partnership with Darlow could end up being greater than the sum of the parts.  Can West Virginia (who also works / has worked with Darlow) say the same?  So yea, did I want to end this as a rah-rah good job Pitt? No not really, but in all honestly, it looks like Narduzzi and co. have added to the program.

Hail to Pitt

Michaelangelo Monteleone

PS:  FWIW here is the WVU puff piece about Darlow that was published about two weeks ago:  https://www.wvillustrated.com/wvu-football/wvu-footballs-new-partner-jeremy-darlow-aims-to-give-mountaineer-student-athletes-off-field-success/

He also works with Clemson and Louisville I believe.

Again, Pitt’s life skills advantage should help Darlow do more at Pitt than anywhere else.

One criticism:  His most recent book has 45 five-star reviews on Amazon and no four-or-three star reviews.  Call me skeptical but this smacks of review-seeding.  As a brand expert and former digital marketing guru you’d think he’d let a few four star reviews into the mix to add to the authenticity.  (Heck I know that much just from listening in on the eCommerce conversations at my company)

Darlow AMZ

Still a good pickup for Pitt though.  H2P.  MM

 

90 thoughts on “Who the F*** is Jeremy Dar-Low?

  1. Welcome to college sports 2020. Branding, social media, national exposure, hell – local exposure

    How’s this for a lack of exposure? ESPN just put out an article of the best 25 teams that didn’t win a national title and the 1980 Pitt team wasn’t even mentioned. Of course, Oklahoma, Mich, PSU, USC (the usual suspects) and a bunch of southern schools since it was written by an ESPN SEC writer

    Anyway, I’m all for the betterment of Pitt athletes. They do well on the field and even better in the classroom, so they deserve it

    Like

    1. In his comment on January 2nd 1980, Howard Cosell said Georgia may be the National Champions but Pitt is the best team in college football. They had just won in a rout of South Carolina with Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers the day before.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. If I were pitt I would use social media to attack this bozo writer. Much like what Minkah did when Prisco left him off the top 100 nfl players. But Pitt just bends over. The attack is just as simple as pointing out what Cosell said and the facts. It would embarrass the guy and his twitter account would flood with calls for something other than meatballs for brains.

      Tex

      Like

        1. Pitt has fans?

          And doubtful any media type rushes to their defense

          I would think social media monitoring would fall under their branding efforts. I personally see this ‘slight’ as an opportunity to set the record straight. That’s Pitts responsibility. They have plenty of people doing nothing and getting paid right now. Put them to work.

          Tex

          Like

  2. an update on Pitt vaccine as just shown on Ch 2 News. Pitt is working on 3 different vaccines which won’t be ready until 2021 due to safety concerns

    Like

  3. Excellent article Maestro…something different to chew on for us POVerts.
    I was in sales for Big Pharma and retired from a director level position at UPMC. I’m hopeful he’s not one of those Smiling Steve BS artists that seem to be everywhere in the sales world.
    I agree with Bill…this is college sports 2020.
    Get on the bus or get left behind. Hoping this dude is the real deal. He looks good on paper.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So this guy is performing a service to certain players….people who provide a service want paid for their time and effort….who pays this fellow…
    In the not too distant future I can see myself doing something other than following PITT football and college football in general….the times-they are a changin”……

    Like

  5. There was an article on the MSN college football news site yesterday. Very related article to Mike’s article.

    The article was from a site called The Score. Article was titled “Brand building is the next big thing in college football recruiting.”

    I can not post a link. WordPress issue. Can someone read & link.

    Geoff Collins use of social media at G. Tech & Temple for players are discussed. Darlow is mention a& Pitt as a client.

    Much bigger niche market then that company hooking up OOC opponents for specific date & year.

    Like

  6. Yes, who is paying for this personal branding. And if the university, why are they involved?

    I think Pitt needs to work on its own branding first. You know that front porch. Branding didn’t cease when Pitts retro colors became permanent.

    How is this personal branding guy any different than an agent. That’s slso part of an agents job.

    Tex

    Like

  7. MM – Interesting writing approach by you. Didn’t know where you were going to end up on this guy, which I think was one of your objectives…

    I suspect letting the players be able to make some bucks off their name is not going to go well. Will be divisive and a distraction — or should I say another distraction.

    Go Pitt.

    Like

  8. this is apparently just another POV ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ moment. Some here claim it isn’t necessary while others may view it as Pitt just catching up with the times.

    I do know that college athletes now being compensated for the use of their images and the like will open up a brand new can of worms. And this guy, if nothing else, just may be a necessary evil

    Liked by 1 person

    1. to further explain the .necessary evil’ …. I’m pretty sure that a college player still can’t have a personal agent for anything, but by Pitt hiring him, he can advise all of the school’s athletes. Now after his/her eligibility is done, the player can do as he/she chooses …. and can hire their own agent if they wish.

      Like

      1. So what’s interesting is Darlow has positioned himself not as an agent but more of a life skills guy. He’ll be working with the life skills department. Working with the 98% of guys who don’t make the pros. What does that mean specifically? I don’t know. But I’d suspect it’s different from an agent or somebody who is cultivating ppl for tv deals, merchandising deals, etc

        Like

  9. Think of how getting paid and cultivating your brand will impact field performance and team first attitude.

    You will have a bunch of AB’s out there. It’s not good for the sport and runs counter to the mission statement and everything I’ve always believed in from team to sacrifice to school spirit. It’s flat out wrong.

    I root for my school and not individual players. Might as well just make the sport semi pro then. The hypocrisy never ends.

    Tex

    Like

    1. And I’m fine with that so why does pitt think this is needed. Why does a student athlete with no nfl talent or pro aspirations need this guy. So he can create their LinkedIn account?

      I can see five star athletes craving a brand manager

      But when was the last time pitt got one of them?

      When you have your handful of elite athletes on the team get paid and showered with favors, it destroys team chemistry. Ask the Steelers

      And what does life skills at pitt teach you? How to balance a checkbook. How to write a resume. How to negotiate a big purchase item. How to make a good meatball???? Seriously.

      Tex

      Like

      1. I think all this branding guy is is Pitt keeping up with the Jones — to the extent they can.

        Otherwise other schools will use it as a chip in recruiting battles…

        Go Pitt.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I think this does raise the question if these athletes are now professionals?

    Really makes the issue of Terrelle Pryor selling his memorabilia for tattoos look ridiculous.

    Certainly creates a slippery slope ripe for abuse.

    Seriously, why not just pay the athletes and be done with it? This is just a delay tactic.

    So will our basketball players look like Nascar or golfers, a little more tasteful but the same concept.

    Will they have to mention their sponsers in every interview?

    This is just making the brown bags leather.

    Like

  11. Coach White is doing an online “Chalk Talk” for women’s basketball season-ticket holders on Tuesday evening.

    Good job by the women’s team. (I’m hoping Coach gives us a rundown on each player —like the progress they’ve made and where each one fits in for next season. Also, where each has the most room for improvement and how he plans to get them there…).

    Go Pitt.

    Like

  12. Just hired a branding firm for the tailgates…same guy used to run the local brewery in town.
    You can see where this is going…
    Probably wont end well either.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Very funny Fran, gave me a hardy chuckle but the truth is, Fran and friends tailgate needs no promotion. It’s grown every year because of the comradeship and hospitality. BTW, I’ll again be donating my Red 5-A parking pass to the tailgate team.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. ike — I see where Chris Peak is saying that Carter was moved to fullback…

    We continue to struggle with trying to replace the amazing George A.

    Go Pitt.

    Like

    1. Not surprised John. Carter looked like he was eating himself out of a tailback spot. I graciously listed him at 220ish but I think he’s more 235ish. << That young man could run with vision and speed but at his new weight?? Who knows. He may be more Ollie than Georgie though.

      Like

  15. Very interesting article. My quick thoughts:

    Pitt really had no choice but to bring on a guy like this. The fact that athletes can earn $$ from revenue generated by their images is a game changer. It will certainly impact recruiting. Now part of an athletes decision is not just; where can I play that gives me the best chance to win a championship and get drafted? Now they can factor in; where can I go to school that gives me the best chance at brand exposure and $$.
    The net effect of all this is fairly predictable…the rich will get richer. Schools like Alabama, OSU, Oklahoma are national brands. They have nationwide exposure. Their star athletes will have huge branding opportunities. Schools like Pitt are regional schools; no one in LA or Chicago gives a crap about Pitt. The vast majority of branding opportunities for athletes at schools like Pitt will be local (car dealers, restaurants, etc). Will we have an occasional athlete with national recognition (probably, but these will be the exceptions). So Pitt athletes will be chasing the small potatoe money while Alabama guys are going after Nike, Addidas, etc).

    Good for the athletes….not so good if you like college sports IMO.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m thinking that Major is right, that Darlow is really a recruiting tool to keep up with the other top programs. Pitt can now say they have someone on staff specifically geared to helping incoming players maximize their amateur level earning status. This may be more valuable to basketball players where the top players are not coming for a degree but to hone their skills and earning potential before they enter the NBA draft.

    Like

  17. I agree Mr Ed, PITT is already talked about as having a great life skills program in place. This should only enhance their reputation. That dam Heather watching out for the student athletes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ike, what skills in life are these students learning? I’m serious do you know. On the surface it appears good. In fact something that should be offered for everyone. But don’t think for a second that heather isn’t ambitious and angling for her next gig. Every action and decision she makes is designed to get her back to big 10 country. You really think EJ would connive and plot like this ?

      Your disowned adopted son

      Like

      1. I actually do not know but one of the main selling points I hear recruits talking about and a major persuade in their decision, it’s in most cases, that very program. But no, I’m not privy to what and how that goes on.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. as a point of clarification … Darlow will not be a personal agent to any Pitt player. It’s my understanding is that he will provide a series of online lectures and workshops. I agree that he is another recruiting tool to go along with the life-skills program, but he is also providing useful, up-to-date info.

    I was assuming that he will also address personal imaging / branding which is a brand new phenomenon as again, I’m pretty sure that a current athlete cannot hire an agent until his eligibility is used up

    Like

  19. Nice work MM!

    I thought that Oregon was the Nike benefactor and not Oregon State? Perhaps (and highly likely) both schools benefit significantly…

    Like

  20. the more I read about this, the more confused I get ….. but now to move on to something maybe even more confusing:

    @ADavidHaleJoint

    My current LB rankings:
    1. Pitt
    2. UVA
    3. VT
    4. Clemson
    5. FSU
    6. BC
    7. Wake
    8. UNC
    9. Miami
    10. Ga Tech
    11. Louisville
    12. NC State
    13. Duke
    14. Syracuse

    Hale is an ESPN CFB writer. Now I expect Cam Bright and Phil Campbell to be a really good OLB tandem this year, and am less certain about Chase Pine at MLB. Much potential but not much experience for the back-ups.

    Like

  21. @ADavidHaleJoint
    I keep beating the drum for Pitt’s defense. They’re just so good at every level. Losing Brightwell is a concern for 2020 but Cam Bright, Phil Campbell & Chase Pine are all really good, too. Last year’s numbers were best in ACC with 1 exception: 3/4th & short.

    Like

    1. This is the same David hale that predicted Miami in the bcs, clemson losing to wake, Lawrence as the heisman winner and an asteroid taking out Syracuse. His opinion is no better than mine. But in this case I hope he’s right…for once.

      Tex

      Like

  22. ^^ Bill, this years PITT defense will be killer as long as the defense moves the ball and scores some points. They can’t keep having these short fields and low scoring games. BTW, I think the offense will rise to the occasion this year.

    Like

  23. In my 52 year career in sales and sales management, I’ve known probably 50 Marketing officers. Once, one “actually helped me” with a sale. The others….worthless and usually fired within 2 years.
    Still, this is very forward looking by Pitt! Both sides are taking a chance with this hire.

    Good thoughts MM!

    I have to say that I’m very impressed with the uptick in Pitt’s recruiting. It appears to be a huge step forward in football. I’ve always measured recruiting success by offers of other schools. Only possible measurement until proof on the field.

    Like

  24. Like wwb I’m confused by what this guy will actually do for players. He knows his branding stuff at the university level. But Pitt doesn’t follow his strategy and tactics. And then expects its student athletes to follow his preachings during some webinar. Pitt in all likelihood is over paying for his advice but lemmings got to do what lemmings do. Seriously, pitt as a school needs brand help before their students. 🛒 before 🐎

    Tex

    Like

  25. hey Tex, speaking of good brands …… just got back from my first liquor purchase in a very long time. 750 ml of Woody Reserve for only $33.99

    Bet you can’t guess what I’m doing right now. As a good friend of mine says, the only thing to mix with good bourbon is good bourbon

    Like

  26. The uptick in Pitt’s recruiting is finally showing up as a result of budget increases for football and basketball. It takes time to bear fruit once the money is there for good assistant coaches and travel expenses. Add in the coaching continuity and we are finally getting some decent results.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Don’t short change Narduzzi VoR. Yeah it took him a minute or two to get his coaching staff together and truthfully learn how to be the head coach of a P-5 football team. Hopefully the season starts as schedule and injuries don’t derail the season but imo this is a really good team. If they don’t win 9 or 10 games with a healthy squad then I will reevaluate.

    Like

  28. Yes Ike another Pat Signal late today. Most of the folks on panterlair have no idea this time. Newton was an easy choice the other day but todays another story. I expect some recruits don’t want to be left out by waiting too long this year.

    Like

  29. Chris Peak on PantherLair wrote a FREE article entitled “What does Pitt’s brand consulting partnership Mean?”

    A little more insight.

    I’d link it but WordPress doesn’t allow me.

    Like

  30. Heard all enrolled in the Branding Class must read and do a book report on Deion Sanders book “ POWER, MONEY and SEX, How success nearly ruined my life!”

    Like

  31. At best I think this guy is a “necessary evil” hire. I know I’m showing my age, but as a proud “Boomer” helping my team succeed seemed enough to give me credibility. However, the generation that is now being recruited needs to know AT ALL TIMES “what’s in it for me”.

    The best advice is the one that this guy suggested was the worst advice, namely stay off social media. Frankly, Pitt’s athletes are the same as any other team’s, their life experiences are very limited, they’ve been applauded at every turn no matter how insignificant the accomplishment, and they typically react to difficulties emotionally. This is a recipe for a terrible message on social media when things don’t go their way.

    However with all that said, keeping athletes off social media is more difficult than changing the rotation of the earth. So maybe this guy gets through to a few players and prevents one or two damaging tweets or whatevers from being sent. Also, Nardog can say to recruits hey we’ll help you develop your “brand” which if nothing else sounds “woke” (which I think is the correct term).

    Like

  32. I am waiting for Huff III to weigh in. Tex you cant be disowned you must seek emancipation from Ike and I don’t see that happening; you love all your kids, even the ones who are jerks. 🙂 Huff III !!!!!

    Like

  33. Joke of a hire.

    Worst facilities in ACC and we hire this jabroni who buys his 5 star clicks.

    Let me guess the Iowa St kid is you guessed it Upitt a 3 Star.

    Darby – Comedy Hour. Branding?!!?? So some used car lot of 51 can give a kid $150 to say buy a car here.

    Heather is a clown and further proves she has no clue. Wanny or Potato Paul win 10 games with the budget and money for assistants. Hell Wanny had 1/4 of support Gorilla Calves gets.

    Like

  34. God Bless the young man but offers from Campbell and UT Martin and Georgia State. Heck even North Dakota State.

    Like

    1. North Dakota State is a national power. No shame in that offer….. You’re a real Doozzie Billie. 🙂 🙂 Glad you’re back posting…. ike

      Like

    1. That is hilarious. I left months before he won the worst Power 5 division there is. You really proud of a coastal? Then what did Clemson do to Narduzzi? Yeah beat him by 45 after putting in 3rd team.

      Get your facts right. Left because he won the coastal is comical. Left in September for the record because the site lost all balance. Bunch of grown men throwing koolaid on each other for a terrible HC who hasn’t done anything. And I sign my posts Upitt. Billie Nardozzi is funny. He is the he/she with better coaching than Pat.

      Like

      1. post season 2018 Clemson:

        Clemson 42 Pitt 10
        Clemson 30 Notre Dame 3
        Clemson 44 Alabama 16

        and the last 2 games, they had 3 players/ 2 starters sitting out with suspensions

        Like

  35. There is an old English movie called Billy Liar which fits you to a T. In fact, nobody here has more BS than you. Wonder who you take after?

    Fact is that the score was 14-10 until Clemson scored with 5 minutes left in the half, Furthermore, Trevor Lawrence played the entire game vs Pitt. That wasn’t the case when they beat ND or Bama ….. but, hey, keep throwing out anything you feel like

    Like

  36. Let’s take it easy on Billie (Upitt) lots of us are real happy he’s back. There has to be a Ying and a Yang on the POV and then there is Upitt. << He fills the black hole.

    Like

    1. there is a difference between offering opinions and just throwing out false claims. I had no issue with his opinion of opening up the economy and going out to public places, and I have often said that Narduzzi clearly has his faults .. but just throwing out lies to embellish you point is total BS

      Like

  37. Wwb – You have been running your one sided view forever. If you played the game you would get a little respect. Bragging about losing by 32 is funny. So losing by 32 is good enough. That mentality is a losers mentality and not how I was raised. You are right. I thought our points were garbage points. Trevor Lawrence played the whole game but the other starters did not. Go brag on our 3 star recruiting some more.

    You are the one with total BS. I left the POV when we won the ACC coastal? Not true. Left in Sept. but what???! You make up BS to back up your points.

    Like

    1. I never accused you of leaving after the Coastal win and really, bragging about a 32 pt loss? …. but go ahead with the falsities, you’re the master

      Like

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