TOBY ROBERTSON, the son of late R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s Sports Marketing Enterprises President T. WAYNE ROBERTSON, “seems to have his father’s golden touch and has started his own promotions company this year,” according to a profile by Richard Craver of the WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL. That the company, Specialized Mobile Exhibits, “could land … a high profile exhibit” such as a floating marketing dock as part of Coca-Cola’s Coke Zero 400 marketing pitch at Daytona Int’l Speedway “within seven months of starting production is a testament to his networking savvy.” It also is a “sign of the respect still shown in NASCAR circles for his father more than 15 years after his tragic death in a boating accident.” The company has “17 employees at operations" in Concord, Hickory and Mooresville, N.C., and Robertson commutes from his Winston-Salem home. The firm “supplies exhibit design, engineering services, fabrication, graphics, exhibit refurbishment, exhibit service, event logistical support and vehicle sourcing.” Other clients “include USAA, DirecTV and Sprint.” Robertson said, “NASCAR is not my whole world when it comes to my business, actually about 30 percent of our 25 projects so far.” When asked to sum up his company’s early success, Robertson said that the plan is “simple, but hard to achieve.” Robertson: “Pay attention to the conversation you are having all the way through. Don’t overpromise what you can do, but express confidence in what you know you can do with quality and save the customer money” (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 7/21).
People and Pop Culture
A new film from Lionsgate, "DRAFT DAY," starring KEVIN COSTNER, JENNIFER GARNER and DENIS LEARY is set for release in the summer of '14. It takes "place over a 12-hour period on the first day of the 2014 NFL Draft" and "follows a general manager as his team attempts to acquire the No. 1 overall pick," according to ESPN's Steve Weissman. The film centers on the Browns, with Costner playing the Browns GM. Costner said, "We're trying to make it authentic and Cleveland has a real story." Garner, who plays the team's salary cap guru, said that is "part of what works for our storyline that Cleveland has struggled a bit in the past and they're rebuilding their team right now." The film's director, IVAN REITMAN, said, "What's really interesting is how important the Cleveland Browns are to the city of Cleveland, despite their sort of repeated failure. I think it almost makes them more special that every draft day is a new opportunity." Reitman added the NFL Draft is a "fascinating experience and most people think of it as that show on television once a year. But really that's just a surface product. Really what's going on in the Draft is everything in war rooms -- 32 of them -- across the country." Leary said, "We spent a lot of time and a lot of detail and a lot of work on the football scenes" ("NFL Live," ESPN2, 7/19).
REALITY BITES: In Denver, Mike Klis noted for Broncos WR ERIC DECKER, fame's "intensity figures to magnify exponentially once his reality TV show airs in late summer." Fans will be "interested in Decker enough to watch 'ERIC & JESSIE: GAME ON,' the working title for the TV show" on E! (DENVER POST, 7/21)....In Houston, Craig Hlavaty noted Texans DE J.J. WATT "found time to visit the set of FX's 'THE LEAGUE' and film a bit for the upcoming fifth season of the raunchy cable TV show" (CHRON.com, 7/17)....In Tampa, Marc Topkin noted Rays 2B BEN ZOBRIST is "writing a book." Zobrist, his wife JULIANNA and author MIKE YORKEY are "teaming up for 'DOUBLE PLAY,' a sort of co-autobiography, which will be out in April." The project was announced by B&H Publishing Group (TAMPABAY.com, 7/20)....In Boston, Michael Vega noted reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion BRAD KESELOWSKI on Thursday appeared as himself on TBS' "SULLIVAN & SON," in an episode in which he "gets into a fender bender with another character after he’s unable to successfully parallel park his car outside the family bar" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/21).
The NFL has hired former ESPN VP/Content Strategy & Global X RON SEMIAO "to oversee NFL Network programming and the league’s media events, including the Super Bowl halftime show," according to John Ourand in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Semiao will report to NFL Network Senior VP/Programming & Production MARK QUENZEL and will be based in L.A. Semiao will be "tasked with developing concepts to help program the network and evolve into events" (SPORTBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/22 issue).
STEPPING DOWN: NHL Exec VP/Content CHARLES COPLIN has resigned, "leaving the league less than three years after being hired away from the NFL." Coplin is "expected to remain with the league as a consultant on major events, including the Winter Classic and All-Star games" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/22 issue).
EXECS: The WTA has named IMG Senior VP/Business Development STEVE TSENG as its first head of global sponsorship sales, starting next week. Tseng, a 20-year veteran of IMG, will "take over the role and report directly to" WTA Chair & CEO STACEY ALLASTER. The sales role previously "fell under the marketing department." Tseng most recently was Senior VP/U.S. Business Development for IMG Consulting (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/22 issue)....IRG Sports & Entertainment on Friday launched a new website, www.IRGSE.com, and made a number of hires. The company hired DANIEL CARPENTER to manage sponsorship sales and staff, AIDY ALONZO to head marketing, branding and communications campaigns, and HILLARY O'BRIAN to manage the finances and accounting staff. The website is designed to provide a corporate overview of the company while promoting its subsidiaries. Meanwhile, IRG also has entered into an agreement with family entertainment event company Feld (IRG)....The USGA named Massachusetts Golf Association Exec Dir JOE SPRAGUE Dir of Regional Affairs for the Northeast. He will "become the liaison for the USGA with all the state associations from Virginia to Canada." His new office will be at the USGA's Golf House in Far Hills, N.J. (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 7/22).
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ESPN.com's Dan Rafael wrote MIKE TYSON's investment as a boxing promoter comes as a partner in the former Acquinity Sports, a Fla.-based promotional company "that has been around for about two years and has a growing stable of talent," including boxers ARGENIS MENDEZ and CLAUDIO MARRERO. Tyson "worked on a deal" with Acquinity Sports co-Founder & CEO GARRY JONAS for the past five months before making it official a few weeks ago and changing the company name to Iron Mike Productions (ESPN.com, 7/19).
FROM THE N.Y. POST: NFL Giants Chair & Exec VP STEVE TISCH recently assisted “a team of Cuban athletes headed to Israel's Maccabiah Games." Tisch "offered to buy uniforms for the team and its coaches -- including outfits for opening ceremonies, recreational events and active sportswear." The initials "PRT," for the late PRESTON ROBERT TISCH, "appear on the uniform's right sleeves" (N.Y. POST, 7/21)....Nets Owner MIKHAIL PROKHOROV on Thursday had lunch at Catch in N.Y. with Forest City Ratner Chair & CEO BRUCE RATNER, Barclays Center CEO BRETT YORMARK, Excel Sports Management President JEFF SCHWARTZ and William Morris Endeavor head JILL SMOLLER, as well as some of the Nets players (N.Y. POST, 7/20).
BODY ISSUES: Tennis player AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA wrote on her Facebook page regarding her involvement in ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue." Radwanska was dropped from a Catholic youth group for her "immoral behavior" after appearing without clothes, and she wrote, "The pictures are certainly not meant to cause offense and to brand them as immoral clearly does not take into account the context of the magazine. Moreover, they do not contain any explicit imagery whatsoever. ... I agreed to participate to help encourage young people, and especially girls, to exercise, stay in shape and be healthy" (USATODAY.com, 7/19).
MAKING A COMEBACK? In L.A., Bill Plaschke wrote former MLBer MIKE MARSHALL, who was "ripped by the media and public for not playing hurt" while with the Dodgers in '88, is now the "commissioner of the four-team Pacific Assn." But in his "effort to return to the world where he once fueled a World Series title, Marshall has been shunned." Marshall said, "A lot of unreturned phone calls. A lot of rejection" (L.A. TIMES, 7/21).
AGENT WATCH: Eagles WR DESEAN JACKSON has signed with JOEL SEGAL of Lagardere Unlimited (Liz Mullen, Staff Writer)....In S.F., Al Saracevic profiled Octagon NFL player agent DOUG HENDRICKSON, and wrote while Hendrickson "toils in relative anonymity ... he is among the top agents in the game." Hendrickson "had three clients who were picked in the first round" of April's NFL Draft. He had another player selected in the second round and one more in the third (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/21).
NAMES: Former NFLer JIMMY FARRIS said that he will "run for office" in '14. Farris said, "I'm just not positive for what office or for what seat" (SPOKESMAN.com, 7/18)....Dodgers RF YASIEL PUIG is "being sued" for $12M by Cuban MIGUEL ANGEL CORBACHO DAUDINOT, who "claims Puig knowingly made false allegations against him that resulted in his receiving a seven-year prison sentence" (LATIMES.com, 7/19)....Steelers QB and Univ. of Toledo alum BRUCE GRADKOWSKI opened his restaurant, Gradkowski's, on the school's campus in January and will "soon open" another restaurant, Social, in Perrysburg, Ohio (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/21)....Seahawks DBs BRANDON BROWNER and RICHARD SHERMAN, along with WR DOUG BALDWIN on Thursday visited U.S. Army Staff Sergeant ANDREW MCCANN, taking the time to "sign helmets and footballs" (KNDO.com, 7/19).