By Barry Janoff
January 8, 2015: Trading card and collectibles company Panini America, which already has deals that include the NBA, NFL, NFL Players Inc., MLBPA and FIFA World Cup, is taking college sports by storm, signing a multi-year deal with the IMG College's Collegiate Licensing Company to be the exclusive category partner with the nearly 200 universities represented by CLC.
The pact builds on an alliance that Panini America signed in November to become an exclusive partner with the more than 200 schools represented by Licensing Resource Group; a deal signed in December with Fermata Partners, which has a licensing agreement with the University of Oregon; and exclusive category alliances also signed late last year that include the universities of Texas, Georgia, Kentucky and Miami (Fla.).
Panini America said it would begin producing collegiate trading card products this spring featuring current and former pro athletes pictured in the uniforms of their respective school alma maters.
The new agreements will take effect with the release of college-dedicated trading card sets and Panini America’s 2015 NFL/NFLPA trading card products, 2014-15 NBA and 2015 MLBPA licensed products.
Financial terms of the deals were not shared.
The exclusive agreements mark the first time since 2009 that Panini America will include college-branded cards within its NBA, NFL and MLBPA trading card products.
The market for these products is unlimited, according to Panini America and IMG College, the college-specific marketing, licensing and media arm of IMG Worldwide. IMG College said that college sports have more than 190 million fans, making them "more popular than any other sports property."
“Since entering the U.S. market in 2009, Panini has quickly become a leader in the trading card category in understanding consumers and developing unique programs for its partners," Dave Kirkpatrick, vp-non-apparel brand management for CLC, said in a statement. "Panini’s management team is committed to growing the college category and using their resources and distribution capabilities to benefit our partner institutions."
According to Mark Warsop, CEO for Panini America, "We are excited to add the Collegiate Licensing Company’s partner institutions to our collegiate trading card program. Our strong product portfolio within our professional sports programs gives us the unique opportunity to showcase professional athletes in their collegiate uniforms and will bring a wider array of product offerings on behalf of the schools and will not only benefit fans of those individual schools but college sports fans overall."
CLC’s partner institutions include Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Boston College, BYU, UC-Berkeley, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgetown, LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Texas Christian University, Texas A&M and UCLA. (Full list here.)
LRG's roster includes Baylor, NC State, Kansas State, Marquette, Memphis, Mississippi State, St. John’s, and Temple. (Full list here.)
“College sports fans are some of the most rabid and loyal fans on the planet,” Jason Howarth, Panini America vp-marketing, said of the deals. “We are looking forward to creating meaningful marketing activations with our collegiate partners to establish a deeper connection to college sports fans and the universities they root for.”
Panini America also has alliances with USA Baseball, USA Basketball, U.S. Soccer, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame; as well as exclusive entertainment licenses with Disney and more than 600 global licenses with other sports and entertainment properties.
Card Renderings Courtesy IMG College: Tom Brady University of Michigan (top), Alex Gordon Nebraska
Panini America Back In College With Trading Card Deal
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