The Marketing of Ricky Rubio to Go Into Overdrive?
Ricky Rubio’s NBA career is off to an encouraging (at times, dazzling) start, which bodes well for his bank account going forward. From the Pioneer Press: “The buzz (about Rubio) is definitely picking up,’ [Agent Jarinn Akana] understated after the game, a 104-100 loss to Oklahoma City. ‘Eventually, deals that we were looking at probably will start coming in.’ Already, Rubio’s impact is clear. ‘His jersey was the hottest seller we had tonight,’ Timberwolves director of retail Jim Bastyr said after the game. Rubio, who will make $3.48 million as a rookie, is worth marketing. He is flashy, charismatic, charming and humble. Akana isn’t as flashy as Rubio. He is business-smart, poised and practical. Playing in Spain, Rubio had endorsement deals with Gillette razors and McDonald’s restaurants. He doesn’t have those now that he’s in Minnesota. ‘See,’ Rubio said before Monday’s game, pointing to his jet-black beard. Interpretation: No more razor commercials. Akana accompanied Rubio to the Twin Cities in June to get a start on business. To date, it’s been a wait-and-see proposition. ‘We pretty much attacked the market, met with a bunch of different companies, so they are aware,’ Akana said. ‘It’s hard to sell someone that people haven’t seen or been around. The myth of Ricky is that he can play, he’s good. But until people finally see him and get around him, see what kind of guy he is … he’s a winner. This thing is just going to grow … It’s like anything else – the economy is down; people are more cautious about spending and putting their dollars into something they’re not sure about,’ he said. ‘Ricky’s proving he’s a good player, and he’ll be able to capitalize on the market.’ Rubio’s Nike shoe contract has expired, and the worldwide apparel company hasn’t renewed the deal yet. Rubio continues to wear Nike shoes, though. Nike has the right of first refusal with Rubio. If another shoe firm makes an offer, Nike can match it and retain him. ‘We haven’t pushed that,’ Akana said.”