Rick Isaacson, one of the true “characters” of the licensing business, who was a key builder of the sports licensing business as one of the earliest and longest-tenured employees of IMG, died over the weekend after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Rick was a valued friend, source, sounding post for me and many others in and around the licensing business. His quirkiness and acerbic nature could be offputting to some, and in some ways overshadowed his sharp business mind. His technophobia was something to behold; its depth was best appreciated by his longtime assistant Carmen Maria Perez, listener-in on phone calls and purveyor of all emails that purportedly were typed in by Rick.
The funeral is today (Feb. 16) in California. A memorial service is planned in Brooklyn, NY in March.
I’ve attached notices run by two journalists particularly close to Rick — Ira Mayer of The Licensing letter and Terry Lefton of Sports Business Daily.
TLL Daily Advisor
IN MEMORIAM: RICK ISAACSON
H. Richard Isaacson, who joined IMG in 1968 and went on to found and lead IMG Licensing as it grew into the largest celebrity, trademark, and event licensing company in the world, died over the weekend.
When he left IMG in 2006, Rick was the company’s longest-term employee. He continued consulting for IMG and took on a few select consulting clients. In mid-2009 he was named Chairman of SKI & Company.
While at IMG, Rick also served as publisher of founder Mark McCormack’s “Success Secrets.” Prior to joining IMG, he worked for three years at Ogilvy & Mather.
“Typical of Rick’s genius, and the originality of his thinking,” recalls TLL Publisher Ira Mayer, “was during the NYC blackout in 2003. Rick was leaving IMG’s midtown offices. There were no subways running, and like hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, he was trying to figure out his best option for getting home to Brooklyn Heights, where he lived with his wife Phyllis. He saw one of those double-decker tour buses that often include downtown Brooklyn and asked if the driver was going there. When the answer was ‘Yes,’ Rick bought his ticket and hopped on. He probably had the most pleasant ride home of anyone in the city that night!”
We understand there will be a memorial service in March. Details to be provided as available.
Sports Business Daily
Former IMG Exec Rick Isaacson Passes Away At The Age Of 67
By Terry Lefton, Editor-At-Large
|Isaacson Spent 40
Years At IMG
H. RICHARD “RICK” ISAACSON, a former IMG exec who was one of the seminal sports agency’s longest-tenured employees, died over the weekend at his Brooklyn home after suffering from pancreatic cancer for two years. He was 67. Isaacson joined IMG in ’68, and worked there for more than 40 years. He founded IMG Licensing in the ’80s, growing it into the world’s biggest independent celebrity, trademark and event licensing organization. Isaacson created licensing programs with some of IMG’s most renowned athletes, including ARNOLD PALMER andTIGER WOODS; with its biggest properties, like the Wimbledon Championships; and with various brands seeking licensing extensions, like Steinway. For many years, Isaacson headed IMG’s licensing efforts for MLB outside of North America. Known for lapsing into song or pidgin Japanese on a whim, Isaacson, “was on everyone’s most unforgettable character list,” said CURT CURTIS, hired by Isaacson at IMG in ’80, “but he also had the brightest, most analytical mind that never failed to turn up a new and unexpected angle. That’s why [IMG Founder] MARK MCCORMACK used to call him on almost any subject.” Isaacson helped foster IMG’s efforts in client management, business development, corporate consulting, and sports promotions. He left IMG in ’08, but continued to work for the company as an independent consultant. Most recently he was chairman of motorsports marketing firm Ski & Co., following its acquisition by 600 Management.