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Labor and Agents: New agency has the AIM to develop marketing opportunities for athletes

Veteran marketing agent Bill Sanders, in partnership with The August Group, has launched a full-service agency, August Icon Marketing, which will exclusively focus on brand opportunities, social media, public relations and community philanthropy.

The new firm, AIM for short, is a sister company to wealth adviser August Group Capital and August Lifestyle, a high-end lifestyle and concierge business that counts wealthy individuals including athletes as clients. August Group counts Quadriam Investments, the family office of Canadian multibillionaire Lino Saputo Jr., as a shareholder.

Veteran agent Bill Sanders leads August Icon Marketing.August Group

Sanders started his career in 1999 at NBA agent Bill Duffy’s BDA Sports, where he did marketing and branding work for stars such as Yao Ming and Steve Nash. He also held executive positions at Excel Sports Management and celebrity public relations firm PMKlBNC, where he was involved with marketing top athletes. 

Matthew Shannon, president and founder of The August Group, said after meeting Sanders that he asked him to draw up a business plan for a new agency. He said he knows athletes are looking for an experienced marketer and Sanders’ work for athletes, like Yao and Nash as well as star baseball players such as Christian Yelich and Clayton Kershaw, speaks for itself.

Shannon said he also appreciates that Sanders will turn down deals with major brands if the athlete doesn’t use that brand. “He looks at a person as a whole instead of a deal-by-deal opportunity.”

Sanders said the new agency will represent individual clients, but will also work with smaller agencies that are more focused on playing contract negotiations and need help with athlete marketing. 

“There are many independent agencies who either don’t have in-house marketing, or are in need of support,” Sanders said. “We are agency agnostic and will be working with multiple independent agencies to provide best-in-class marketing for their athlete clients.”

The agency will represent players across sports, including college athletes for NIL work. Sanders said the agency is interested in representing athletes at all levels “as long as they work with us on increasing their marketability.”

Quadriam is also a shareholder of Quartexx Basketball, which represents NBA players and is headed by NBA agent Bernie Lee, and Quartexx Hockey, which represents NHL players. Those companies are separate from The August Group and their clients may or may not choose to use AIM for marketing services, Shannon said.

In addition to Kershaw, other AIM clients include NHL players Mitch MarnerPatrice BergeronTaylor HallDarnell Nurse and Josh Anderson.

Lisette Carnet will rep Yasiel Puig as he attempts an MLB return.Stage 7 Photography

■ FIRST CUBAN-AMERICAN FEMALE AGENT TO REP PUIG: Lisette Carnet became the first Cuban-American female MLB agent when the MLB Players Association certified her as a general contract agent earlier this month.

Carnet, 53, was born in Miami and is the daughter of Cuban immigrants. She has been working with former MLB outfielder Yasiel Puig and will represent him in his bid to get back on an MLB club roster after playing for a year in the Mexican National League, where he was named defensive player of the year. Puig had been represented by Luba Sports, where Carnet worked with Puig while running the Latin division. The parting was amicable.

“They are both good people,” said Rachel Luba, MLB agent and founder of Luba Sports. “Yasiel has been dealt a difficult hand and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Puig issued a statement last week in which he praised Luba and said he appreciated her work on his behalf. Carnet said that Luba encouraged her to become an MLBPA certified agent. “She extended her hand to me,” Carnet said. “Not many agents do that.”

Carnet is at least Puig’s fourth agent. Prior to Luba, he was represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council and Wasserman. Puig has had issues on-field, such as being involved in bench-clearing brawls, and off-field, including being sued by a woman who alleged he assaulted her at a Los Angeles Lakers game. Puig settled that case a few weeks ago for about $250,000, which included legal fees and him continuing to maintain his innocence. He publicly announced the settlement and said he wanted to move forward.

As has been well reported, Puig has also experienced hardship, as he was essentially held hostage by the people who smuggled him out of Cuba after his own attempts at defecting failed. “Knowing his background and how he was human-trafficked to get to the United States, there was trauma that was never addressed by qualified professionals, which to me should have been done instinctively,” Carnet said.

Carnet and Puig have been working together on his mental health, including getting him a Dutch shepherd named Karel, who is a trained emotional support dog. “Karel accompanies Yasiel during his exercises and trips, and the result has been a much more focused and responsive Puig,” Carnet said.

Carnet has been working with Puig in various capacities while he was with different agencies since 2017. “Throughout the initial years, I was always the go-to person that Yasiel and his agents would rely on to make sure that he was understood,” Carnet said.

Last week Carnet announced she has launched Leona Sports with the acquisition of R&I Total Sports. The acquisition comes with R&I’s veteran agent Carlos Perez, who is one of the top recruiters of Latino talent in the U.S. With this acquisition, Leona Sports will represent 16 professional baseball players.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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