American Express’ Gift Drops Support Local Businesses
American Express has long supported small business owners through its one-day annual Small Business Saturday program that offers cardmembers rewards for shopping locally. This year, the brand took its efforts a step further with the new Shop Small 2x Rewards, a campaign that threw some heavy weight behind the effort in the form of NBA star Shaquille O’Neill. Basketball fans at stadiums across the country enjoyed surprise and delight gifts from local businesses, all carefully selected by Shaq’s celebrity friends. The result: millions of enrollments in the Shop Small program, on top of 1 billion earned p.r. impressions.
The idea behind Shop Small 2x Rewards was simple: Why support small businesses on one day, when you can support them through the entire holiday season? American Express launched the campaign with an original content series featuring Shaq, a dominant voice in basketball and entertainment, plus an announcement of the gift drops by Shaq on the NBA “Halftime Report” on TNT. In an online series, which garnered more than 32 million impressions, Shaq got together with celebrity friends Kendrick Lamar, Wanda Sykes and Jeremy Piven to shop at local stores across the country, finding holiday gifts to “share the love” of supporting small businesses.
Next came the gift drops. More than 28,000 basketball fans at games in November and December were put on the receiving end of Shaq’s holiday gift list as JumboTron content triggered gift drops delivered by parachutes launched from the rafters and doled out by masses of brand ambassadors decked out in “Shop Small blue.” Adding to the celebratory experience was an in-stadium signage takeover, confetti cannons, cheerleaders and mascots.
Among the gifts: custom t-shirts from Miami-based retailer Peace Love World at a Miami Heat game; 1,200 gift cards from local business G20 Spa at a Boston Celtics game; sneaker wipes, Lakers socks and gift cards from sneaker shop Blends at a Los Angeles Lakers game; tote bags from San Francisco business Picnic SF at the Golden State Warriors game; and 2,000 wool and tech gloves from local merchant Brooklyn Industries at a Brooklyn Nets Game dispersed via 100 brand ambassadors and 250 Shop Small parachutes. The pièce de résistance—the distribution of 22,000 candles from local shop Abbey Brown at a Chicago Bulls game, one candle for every single person in the arena, delivered by 450 brand ambassadors.
American Express generated an untold number of joyful moments for fans—both customers and potential customers—through the drops, resulting in 116,000 live impressions from venue experiences. But the cherry on top? All of the love generated that season for small businesses courtesy of some high-profile friends and hoops. Cha-Ching.