SBJ/March 12 - 18, 2007/This Weeks News

His card is American Express, dude

Shaun White’s life is about snowboarding and skateboarding. His card is now American Express.

The Olympic gold medalist with the shaggy red hair has signed an endorsement deal with American Express to become the newest member of the card company’s “My life. My card.” campaign.

“He’s a magnetic young guy,” says AmEx’s
Michael Aaron of White.

American Express and White’s agent, Mark Ervin of IMG, declined to discuss terms of the agreement, but sources put the deal in the low to mid-six figures annually and said the brand typically signs multiyear deals with options for extension. Previous athlete contracts have included some appearances but primarily have been limited to print and TV advertisements.

“Shaun has always admired American Express’ advertising and is excited to be aligned with such an iconic campaign,” Ervin said.

At 20, White becomes the youngest member of American Express’ roster of sports talent, which includes Tiger Woods, Mike Kryzyzewski, Andy Roddick and Venus Williams. He is the second action sports figure to be featured in the campaign, following surfer Laird Hamilton, who is not under contract with American Express in the U.S. but still has an AmEx deal for Japan.

“He’s a magnetic young guy,” said Michael Aaron, American Express’ vice president of brand and network advertising. “You layer that on top of his accomplishments, and it makes a lot of sense.”

Commercial and print advertisements featuring White will appear in April. The theme will be similar to the “My life” creatives that have preceded it, Aaron said. It will feature White snowboarding and skateboarding, the two sports where he’s distinguished himself.

Arrangements are being made for the print ad to be shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

Though White is younger than American Express’ other endorsers, Aaron said this does not signal a move by the company toward a younger demographic.

“First and foremost, it’s about accomplishment and lifestyle,” Aaron said. “The youth is frankly fairly far down on the list.”

American Express joins Motorola and Hewlett-Packard to give White three agreements with blue-chip corporations. All three were signed after the 2006 Winter Olympics, pushing his annual income to a reported $6 million.

White recently signed a reported seven-figure deal with Red Bull, and his other sponsors include PlayStation, Burton snowboards, Volcom apparel, Oakley sunglasses and Adio shoes.

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