Panini, the world leader in officially licensed collectibles, is also the most significant publisher of collectibles in the U.S.; with exclusive licenses to the NFL and NBA (and several other leagues). The company has been the exclusive sticker provider of the FIFA World Cup since 1970 and their quadrennial sticker collection, expected to be released on March 15th and on shelves across the country by April 1st, is a favorite among fans world-wide. I had a chance to chat with Panini America VP of Marketing Jason Howarth to try and get a grasp on the sticker collection phenomenon and their plans for both the Daytona 500 and NBA All-Star Weekend.
JWS: The FIFA World Cup sticker collection is a global phenomenon that I’m not sure the U.S. sports fan fully appreciates. Can you share an experience from a previous World Cup, that might help to put it in to perspective for our readers?
Jason: Yeah, it was eye-opening in 2014 when the President of Colombia was getting out of his motorcade to swap stickers for his FIFA WC sticker collection; in the middle of an election.
JWS: Sunday, February 18th is an important day on the Panini calendar. Why is that?
Jason: Our first product of the season hits, when the Daytona 500 starts; our NASCAR Donruss product. It will be available at mass retailers, at hobby shops and online at iCollectPanini.com. We’re excited to have that product launch at the start of the season and we’re going to do everything we can to get those cards into the hands of NASCAR fans. We want to let them know that they can collect all of their favorite drivers and favorite teams.
JWS: The NBA All-Star Game is also this weekend, what do you guys have planned?
Jason: We’ll be active in the NBA Crossover Exhibit, showcasing memorabilia in an artistic way and showing how trading cards are made with our interactive display that will help people understand the process and evolution of a trading card and then we’ll have a Panini VIP Lounge at NBA All-Star; which is more hospitality for partners, guests and agents, but also player engagement. We’ll have some of the top rookies from this year’s class and some NBA all-stars coming through to do interviews and play pop-a-shot.
Howie Long-Short: Loot boxes, which offer gamers random in-game virtual contents (but cost real money), have been considered by some to be a form of gambling. The Hawaii state legislature just put forward a set of bills that would ban the sale of loot boxes to buyers under the age of 21. When a kid buys a pack of cards, he/she doesn’t know what is inside. How does the trading card industry avoid the gambling comparisons?
Jason: On our boxes, it clearly states “guaranteed 2 memorabilia cards per box”, “guaranteed 5 autographs per box” or whatever are the key components of that specific Panini brand; you don’t know who you’re going to get, but you know what to expect. We also have insertion ratios on the boxes and the packs themselves, telling the collector how often randomly inserted cards are expected to fall.
Fan Marino: While on the topic of the NBA all-star offensive exhibition, the league is attempting to incentivize players to showcase their talents on both ends of the floor; offering an additional $50,000 ($100,000 total) to players on the winning team. I’m not sure that will do the trick. LeBron is making $30.96 million this season. If you made $100,000/year, would you be come to work on your day off (and give it 100%) for $161.49?
While you are thinking about it? Check out Panini’s Team LeBron all-star set. The Team Steph set will be released at 2p CST.
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