Ken Russell is now the City of Miami Commissioner for District 2. Ken, as you might recall, is part of the Russell family that made their name selling more than a billion Coca-Cola branded yoyos worldwide.
Russell Promotions was started by the legendary Jack Russell, and originally served as the international arm of Duncan Toys. Jack was a Duncan demonstrator with an eye for business and promotion, and he had a knack for getting Duncan into international markets that had no cultural connection with the yoyo by co-marketing them as advertising premiums. The business took off, and eventually Jack left Duncan and formed his own company, with the gentleman’s agreement that he would stay out of the United States and leave that business to Duncan.
My favorite Russell story comes from Jack’s time with Duncan. Jack traveled to Cuba to launch a yoyo promotion there, and even brought along his convertible with “Jack Russell – Duncan YoYo Demonstrator” emblazoned on the doors. Pretty swanky stuff. Unfortunately he had to leave the car there when he fled Cuba with only the clothes on his back because some dude named Fidel Castro seized power and everything went sideways. Chances are good that car is still on the island, and maybe even still running. Now that Cuba is once again open to US citizens, first one to find it gets a hell of a prize package from YoYoNews, I can promise you that.
I mentioned it was a family business, right? Jack Russell’s wife, Kazuyo, ran her fair share of promotions as well and was once considered one of the best yoyo players in Japan. Just from this picture I can tell her Creeper game is stronger than mine, I can guarantee that.
Brothers Ken and Riki ran the company in modern times, but as Coca-Cola’s focus shifted away from on-the-ground promotions like what Russell offered, the company wound down and the brothers pursued other interests. Although they did recently crank out those bitchin’ Daft Punk yoyos, so while Russell Promotions is quiet, it’s not completely gone.
Now Ken has won a long (and if you were watching it, slightly unpleasant) political battle against Teresa Sarnoff (who’s husband was the incumbent Commissioner for District 2). And once again a yoyo player rises up from the ranks and proves himself to be not just a nice guy and a great demonstrator, but someone with significantly more ambition and skills than we expected. Didn’t see it coming, but you know what? I’m not surprised.