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This 'Branding Whisperer' Wants to Reignite the X Games to Its Past Glory Entrepreneur Shaun Neff was just tapped to help supersize the iconic sporting event. 'It has lost relevance and its connection to culture,' he says.

By Jonathan Small

Key Takeaways

  • Shaun Neff joins X Games' ownership group as an investor and advisor.
  • He's known as a top-tier brand consultant.
  • Neff plans to introduce more events to bring together sports, music and culture.
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Shaun Neff owes his entire entrepreneurial career to the action sports industry. As a freshman in college, he emblazoned his last name on T-shirts and beanies and watched elite athletes at the X Games proudly boast his logo as they flipped above ramps.

"It was always such a huge moment for them as well as a big opportunity to grow my business," he says.

Now, Neff is taking his X Games pedigree to the next level, joining the brand's ownership group as an investor and advisor.

"It is a really exciting business opportunity because X Games already has such awareness and cache with unrealized opportunity. The potential for growth and expansion is massive," he says.

Related: Meet the Mastermind Behind Kendall Jenner's, Shay Mitchell's and Millie Bobby Brown's Brands

X-ccelerating the X Games

Dubbed the "branding whisperer," Neff has a history of helping supercharge brands, including Sony Electronics, Target, and Walmart. He plans to take his marketing acumen to the iconic X Games, merging the sports with music, style and culture.

Here are some big game-changers you can expect in the coming year.

A new schedule

The X Games has always occurred during the summer or winter, but Neff says the brand will disrupt this familiar cadence, adding more event qualifiers and pop-ups to the schedule.

"We are making shifts to become a year-round brand that will show up for our athletes and our fans for more than just summer and winter games," he says.

More fans

Neff believes that the X Games, founded in 1994, has lost some relevance. He wants to bring it back to the forefront of pop culture by returning to what made it so unique.

"This isn't about building a brand; the brand is already massive," he says. "It is about rebuilding the brand really intentionally, reconnecting with its youth and counterculture roots, and ultimately transcending sports into broader pop culture."

Expect more music to rock the stands, starting at the X Games Ventura in California from June 28-30.

Says Neff, "We have some tricks up our sleeve to bring together our events and the biggest acts in the world in a unique format.

Related: ESPN, Fox, and Warner Bros Are Launching a New Sports Streaming Service. It Could Change TV Forever.

A new council

To maintain the authenticity of the sport, X Games is introducing an athlete council led by TV host Selema Masekela, who previously hosted X Games for 13 years. The council is there to support the superstars but also help launch some of the up-and-comers into the stars of tomorrow.

"It's making sure that we are listening to the athletes primarily and how we are driving and shaping the events, building new events, how we present them — without them, we don't really have anything. I think it's leveraging our star power," Masekela told The Aspen Times.


As Neff discovered early on with his Neff gear, X Games is more than just a sport — it's a style. The brand wants to incorporate more creativity and self-expression into the action.

A taste of this could be seen at X Games Aspen last summer, such as Japanese snowboarder Cocomo Murase's vintage-style sherpa pilot jacket, but expect more in all the events and across social media.

"We're putting more emphasis on creativity, style and self-expression, which are at the heart of action sports and our brand," Neff says. "We think it is a better experience for fans, something the athletes want, and frankly, something that makes us different from other sporting events out there."

"Spin it to win it"

Although some purists may argue that all the X Games extracurricular activities might take the focus away from the sport, Neff disagrees. It's all about progression, he says. You've got to "spin it to win it."

Neff says the changes won't affect what X Games is at its core. "

"We're just opening the gates so long-time fans get more of what they love, and new fans get to experience these sports for the first time in a way that isn't daunting or exclusive."

Related: Beanies, Tees and Steez: How Shaun Neff Built a $100 Million Business Out of His Backpack

Jonathan Small

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Founder, Write About Now Media

Jonathan Small is an award-winning author, journalist, producer, and podcast host. For 25 years, he has worked as a sought-after storyteller for top media companies such as The New York Times, Hearst, Entrepreneur, and Condé Nast. He has held executive roles at Glamour, Fitness, and Entrepreneur and regularly contributes to The New York Times, TV Guide, Cosmo, Details, Maxim, and Good Housekeeping. He is the former “Jake” advice columnist for Glamour magazine and the “Guy Guru” at Cosmo.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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