SOURCE: American Express

American Express

American Express

August 19, 2009 11:00 ET

NBC Universal and American Express Launch the "Shine A Light" Program, Inviting Public to Spotlight Small Businesses Across the Country by Nominating a Small Business to Receive $100,000 in Grant and Marketing Support

Talk Show Host and Entrepreneur Ellen DeGeneres, Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur Diane von Furstenberg, and MSNBC's Small Business Expert JJ Ramberg to Serve as Judges and Spread the Word

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - August 19, 2009) - NBC Universal and American Express announced today the launch of "Shine A Light," calling for people across the country to nominate and vote for the small business story that most inspires them. Now more than ever, people cherish the small businesses in their neighborhood, and through this program, they can spotlight small business owners for all that they do, and the role they play in driving economic recovery. "Shine A Light," which marks the largest ever cross property campaign at NBCU, will award the winning small business with $100,000 in grant and marketing support from American Express, and the people who nominate the three small business finalists will each receive a $3,000 American Express Gift Card. People are encouraged to participate in the program by nominating, "spotlighting" and voting at, a microsite developed and hosted by iVillage.

Beginning today, NBCU and American Express invite the public to nominate and vote online for the small business story that most inspires them based on innovation, community spirit and customer service. The nominations will be vetted by NBCU and American Express and then judged by talk show host and entrepreneur Ellen DeGeneres, fashion designer and entrepreneur Diane von Furstenberg, and MSNBC's small business expert and host JJ Ramberg, to narrow the field to three finalists. The public will ultimately vote for the winning small business to be announced on October 19. The winning small business will receive a $50,000 grant and $50,000 marketing support from American Express and will be featured on MSNBC's small business show, "Your Business."

"People across the country care about the local shop down the street and the restaurant downtown -- these are places where relationships are formed, memories are made and dreams are realized," said Nancy Smith, Vice President, Global Media, Content and Community, American Express. "The passion, dedication and resilience of these business owners are especially relevant in times like these -- they are the key drivers of economic recovery, and through this program, we look forward to spotlighting the wonderful work that they do every day."

"We're thrilled to join forces with American Express to help celebrate and support America's small businesses," added Mike Pilot, President of Sales and Marketing, NBC Universal. "We're extremely proud of this campaign which shows how collaboration with a client and their agencies can lead to a smart, layered and custom enterprise marketing solution that covers everything from talent to technology. 'Shine A Light' highlights the full scope of our capabilities, using the diverse platforms of NBCU to deliver a unique and creative solution that engages consumers and delivers the targeted results our clients are looking for."

Multi-Channel Media Integration to Drive Awareness and Engagement

The "Shine A Light" campaign will include significant on-air and online promotion, in-show integrations on NBC Local Media's "First Look" as well as series of custom videos that will air on multiple NBCU networks and online properties. The videos will feature various NBCU personalities such as chef, restaurateur, and entrepreneur Tom Colicchio and Law & Order's S. Epatha Merkerson discussing small businesses that have inspired them and encouraging participation across media platforms. iVillage has built the entire community platform at, where all promotional elements will drive consumers to nominate, "spotlight" and vote. The program will be heavily promoted on iVillage, where a series of articles with small business insights and tips will run throughout the next three months.

"Shine A Light" on the Most Inspiring Small Business: Get Involved Today

Now through September 13, the public is invited to participate by nominating and voting for the small business that most inspires them at The process is simple: a written nomination, accompanied by photography and video if desired, may be submitted online. Visitors to the site will review the written nominations, share feedback and shine a digital "spotlight" on one small business story.

All participants including those who nominate and the nominated small business owners are encouraged to rally their networks to get as many "spotlights" as possible. Nominated small businesses require a minimum of 50 "spotlights" on the site to advance in the campaign. Nominees will be able to find several promotional tools on the web site to help them raise awareness for the program and encourage online voting, such as widgets and badges that may be posted on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

On September 24, three finalists will be announced, and voting to determine the winner will last until October 16. The winner will be announced on October 19, 2009. To nominate, vote or to obtain more information, please visit

About NBC Universal

NBC Universal is one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

About American Express

American Express Company is a leading global payments and travel company founded in 1850. For more information, visit

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