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VOL. 125 | NO. 209 | Wednesday, October 27, 2010

He’ll Wear Your Shirt to Convey Your Message

AISLING MAKI | Special to The Daily News

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When Buzz Aldrin competed against the likes of actress Pamela Anderson and football star Chad Ochocinco on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” earlier this year, the former astronaut hired professional T-shirt wearer Jason Sadler of iwearyourshirt.com to help garner votes in hopes of maintaining his spot on the popular reality show.

Entertainment legend Bill Cosby hired Sadler to promote both his iPhone app and an album he produced, and Aldrin hired him a second time to help spread the word after he launched his new website.

“They’re both really kind of up on social media. Bill Cosby admits that his wife is more up on it than he is, but he ‘twits and he tweeties,’ as he says,” said Sadler, who will speak Thursday at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis at a luncheon event hosted by the American Advertising Federation Memphis (AAF Memphis), a nonprofit professional association.

Sadler, a 28-year-old Floridian whom Fox Business has called the “Entrepreneur of the Century,” will address Memphians on topics that include entrepreneurship, advertising, marketing, personal branding and using social media to generate revenue.

In late 2008, Sadler, a graphic designer by trade with experience in marketing and sales, came up with the idea of charging businesses to rent his 6-5, 240-pound frame as a daily-changing human billboard to advertise their brands.

“I kind of saw the recession happening,” he said. “I was in advertising and marketing, and I came up with the idea, price and structure. And Jan. 1, 2009 was the first day I ever got paid to wear a T-shirt.”

Regardless of the occasion, Sadler wears one advertiser’s T-shirt for each of the year’s 365 days. Slots book up quickly, with the Jan. 1, 2011 rate starting out at just $5. With each day, the price increases by $5, with Dec. 31 being the most expensive day to rent space on Sadler’s chest.

With more than 25,000 Twitter followers and 13,000 fans on two Facebook pages, he relies on his sizable social media following to promote his clients.

Sadler also uses Flickr pics, YouTube clips, and daily live streaming videos on Ustream.

“I’m more of a business and marketing guy than a design guy. I saw this trend of up-and-coming social media and tried to jump on board with it,” he said.

“I couldn’t have had this job four or five years ago. I live and breathe through social media. These sites are out there and using them is completely free. You can get a lot of return on your investment using social engagement through iwearyourshirt.”

Sadler’s list of clients includes such heavy hitters as Starbucks, Nissan, Doritos and Zappos.com, and Pizza Hut has signed up for November.

Sadler this year hired a colleague, California-based Evan White, to promote clients from the West Coast, but White’s stint will expire on Dec. 31.

Sadler’s 2011 staff will include five official T-shirt wearers who will tweet, Facebook and upload videos daily through their collective social networks.

He has already hired DeAndre Upshaw of Dallas and Angela Seales of New York City, the company’s first woman T-shirt wearer.

Sadler is still on the lookout for two additional team members whom he’ll select through a national search.

“You can submit a two-minute YouTube video about why you’re awesome and why you’re really good at putting on T-shirts,” he said. “Then you promote that video, share it, get your friends to comment on it and all that stuff.”

While the response has been impressive, Sadler said he has yet to receive any entries from the Memphis area.

“It will be really cool while I’m there to get people involved. No one’s hiring right now, and we’re offering a starting salary of $35,000 for working from home, wearing a T-shirt, and posting videos every day,” he said, adding that, so far, he hasn’t had a Memphis client, either.

The Jacksonville, Fla., resident has drawn large audiences at speaking engagements across the country.

“Predominantly, I work from my couch in my house, and that’s where I do all my T-shirt wearing, but I’m on the road quite a bit now speaking. A lot of these companies that pay me to wear their shirts will fly me out to conferences or expos or just to their businesses to do something fun

and have me there,” said Sadler, adding that he’s “a huge foodie and I definitely love music, so I’m excited for the trip to Memphis.”

The outgoing Sadler said he genuinely enjoys sharing his story with audiences.

“Two hundred Facebook friends were all I had when I started, and I’d never used Twitter, so it’s a rags-to-riches story, if you will,” he said.

AAF Memphis president Marcia Anthony said the organization, which, in addition to various workshops, hosts a monthly event on the last Thursday, is dedicated to bringing to town speakers who appeal to a wide audience.

“It’s not just for advertising professionals,” Anthony said. “We look for people the general public is interested in, as well. And we try to get speakers of interest to all aspects of our membership, from social media to sales and graphic arts.”

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