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Former NBA All-Star Jamal Mashburn teaming up to launch an advertising agency in Chicago

(March 27, 2014) New York native Jamal Mashburn may be better known to most for his 12-year basketball career as a forward with the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat. But even before he retired from the NBA in 2004, he had already established his off-the-court business career.

Today, Mashburn is the owner of 40 Papa John's Pizza restaurants, 38 Outback Steakhouse restaurants and several car dealerships. He is also a partner in Ol Memorial Stable, which owns Kentucky Derby prospect Buffalo Man, along with his former University of Kentucky basketball coach Rick Pitino and Outback Steakhouse co-founder Chris T. Sullivan. And last year he launched a venture capital firm called Mashburn Justice Capital Partners.

But as successful as Masburn has been, this doesn't sound like the resume leading to his next endeavor -- opening an advertising agency. With his partner, Jonathan Sackett, the pair have established the Mashburn Sackett agency in Chicago. Mashburn carries the title of chairman, with Sackett, most recently a senior partner at WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, serving as President/CEO. The firm has a starting staff of 10.

"We are the world's first inspiration agency," says the agency's website. "Marketing and advertising are in our DNA, but our offering is truly unique. Think of it as a mashup of creative marketing, advertising, entertainment with an underpinning of solid, results-driven business consulting & partnership."

With more than 18 years of international experience, Sackett has developed award-winning and ground breaking initiatives for some of the world's largest and best known companies including GEICO, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Taco Bell, Mcdonald's, Milk, IBM, Harley-Davidson, Mars, Wrigley, Miller Brewing, Coors, and Budweiser.

As Mashburn tells it, his other businesses and sports career were good preparation for the advertising and marketing arena. "A lot of people don't realize that when you are a youth playing a sport you are already involved in marketing because you are marketing yourself," he told the Wall Street Journal.

"Trying to understand the advertising component in the car business was the biggest challenge," he said. "The car business is very much all about 'we are going to do it the same old way.' It's a lot of 'we are going to spend X amount of dollars on radio and print and try and figure out this Internet thing.' So I began asking my general managers 'Can anybody give me a number on what my return is for what we spend on advertising?'  But no one could give me an answer. That got my attention and I got really involved."

"I will not be the guy pitching the creative concept," said Mashburn. "I am more of an operations person. My role will be oversight of the agency, administrative and building relationships. I have relationships and access to companies and people in the technology space, the food industry and car business."

Not bad territory for an agency start-up.

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