SBJ/April 3 - 9, 2006/Labor Agents

Golfer Gulbis adds Canon USA, SemGroup to endorsements

LPGA Tour player Natalie Gulbis has signed endorsement deals with Canon USA and with energy company SemGroup, and her new agent at Octagon is in talks with non-golf companies about additional endorsements.

“We feel that Natalie has the ability to reach an audience outside of golf fans,” said Giff Breed, Gulbis’ agent and managing director of Octagon’s golf division. Octagon signed Gulbis for representation in January. She was formerly represented by Imani Sports.

Gulbis will wear the Canon logo on the sleeve of her shirt or on the back of her shirt if she wears a sleeveless top, Breed said. He would not give financial details of the deal.

Natalie Gulbis is sporting the Canon logo on her
shirt; SemGroup bought space on her bag.
Breed said the deal entitles Canon to worldwide advertising rights to Gulbis’ name and likeness, but advertising plans have not been firmed up and Breed said he did not know whether Canon planned to use her with its other top female athlete endorser, tennis player and IMG client Maria Sharapova.

Gulbis’ deal was negotiated with the business solutions division of Canon. A Canon representative was not immediately available for comment.

Gulbis will also wear the SemGroup logo on the belly of her golf bag. SemGroup will be the presenting sponsor of the LPGA Tour’s John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic in Tulsa, to be played in September.

GERSH AGENCY EYEING OTHER SPORTS: Hollywood talent firm The Gersh Agency, which announced last month that it had acquired NFL player agent Steve Feldman’s firm, plans to add other sport representation practices, it hopes within the year, said Bob Gersh, Gersh Agency co-president.

“Our plan is to eventually expand into other major sports,” said Gersh. He would not say which sports he was eyeing.

The acquisition of Steve Feldman & Associates last month established a sports division in the agency called Gersh Sports. Feldman brings with him 30 NFL player clients, including New England Patriots Rodney Harrison and Corey Dillon and San Diego Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal. Feldman also represents NFL draft prospects Richard Marshall, a Fresno State cornerback, and Daniel Bullocks, a Nebraska safety.

The Gersh Agency is one of the oldest Hollywood talent agencies and was established more than 60 years ago by Gersh’s father, Phil Gersh.

“My choice to consolidate my sports management company into The Gersh Agency comes at a time when athletes are looking for off-field opportunities, both during their playing careers and once they are over,” said Feldman, in a statement.

CSMG HIRES NEW CEO, MOVES OFFICES: Multisport athlete representation agency CSMG has hired longtime advertising executive Mike Hall as its CEO and moved its offices downtown from the Chicago suburbs.

Hall, who worked for 20 years at advertising company Leo Burnett, replaces Thomas Kang, who left CSMG to pursue other interests. Alan Nero, CSMG chairman and founder, said that Hall will help CSMG build the brands of the firm’s star athletes, who include NBA star Dwyane Wade, MLB legend Randy Johnson and NFL stars Donovan McNabb and Antwaan Randle El.

Additionally, Hall will help build CSMG’s other businesses, including corporate consulting, marketing and digital content, Nero said.

CSMG, which has been based in the Chicago suburbs for 25 years, has moved from Skokie, Ill., to downtown Chicago.

Nero said he moved the company to be closer to athlete and corporate clients. “When I started my business 25 years ago, I was competing against people who were working out of their homes. We are a big business now. We have 70 employees and we are speaking five languages in our office.”

CSMG represents 300 athletes worldwide, including about 150 minor league baseball players.

IMG SIGNS 13-YEAR-OLD TENNIS PHENOM: IMG has signed Bernard Tomic, a 13-year old Australian who has won 75 tennis tournaments in less than six years and four consecutive International Tennis Federation tournaments, for representation.

Winning ITF tournaments is highly unusual for a 13-year-old boy, particularly when he is playing against 17- and 18-year-olds, said Max Eisenbud, head of global recruiting for IMG Tennis.

IMG is talking to a few clothing companies about deals for Tomic, and is putting off talks on a racket deal, for now, Eisenbud said. The priority right now is to set up a training and tournament schedule to continue Tomic’s development as a player, he said.

Eisenbud said that IMG usually waits to sign male tennis players until they are 15 or 16. “We don’t sign a lot of players and are really looking for that special, exceptional case,” he said.

Lawrence Frankopan, IMG agent based in London, and Brian Cooney, IMG agent based in Melbourne, will head up the team representing Tomic.

“We see a lot of talented young players, but everything about Bernard points to him becoming a true superstar in the future,” Cooney said in a statement.

Contact Liz Mullen at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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