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NEWS REAL

• FIFA has postponed plans to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams for the 2022 event in Qatar. The plan is still being considered for the 2026 World Cup, which will be staged in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. According to FIFA, “(There was not enough) time for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact.” The World Cup is scheduled for Nov. 21-Dec. 18, 2022.

• The NFL and NFL Players Association have unveiled two joint agreements that are intended to “support further resources directed to address pain management and behavioral health.” Full story here.

• The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and social impact education innovator EVERFI, Inc. have oined the students of Santee Elementary School in San Jose to launch The Compassion Project for the 2019-2020 school year, described as a “national nonprofit dedicated to providing compassion education to elementary school students across the U.S.”

• The U.S. Golf Association has aligned with Marvel Entertainment to create exclusive golf education products to “engage junior golfers on the essential elements to learning the game." Scheduled to launch in June at the 2019 U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach, the collaboration features printed and digital comic books with many of Marvel’s super heroes The story follows Tony Stark (Iron Man) and other Avengers as they teach the next generation of Marvel Super Heroes about golf. Limited-edition Marvel-themed golf posters will be distributed (while supplies last) at the Junior Experience at the 2019 U.S. Open.

• Major League Lacrosse has signed a deal with Anheuser-Busch to have its Bud Light brand become the official beer partner for the 2019 MLL All-Star Game, being played in Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD on July 27. The deal includes “prominent signage on the playing field, fan zone activation and various on-site promotions at several sports bars and retail locations in the Greater Annapolis area leading up to the All-Star Game.”

• Stating that “we are continually seeking opportunities to evolve our product offerings,’ Kohl’s has signed an exclusive long-term alliance with Fanatics, a global leader in licensed sports merchandise with the addition of “hundreds of thousands of items.” Full story here.

• Pete Frates and Pat Quinn, co-founders of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, have launched with The ALS Assn. the 5th anniversary of “Challenge Me” with a “new call to action to reignite the passion and generosity of the millions of people who dumped ice water on their heads in the summer of 2014.” 

POLL POSITION

U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 23 players who will represent the U.S. in France and seek to defend their FIFA Women’s World Cup crown (July 7-Aug.7).

GOALKEEPERS

Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS
Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS
Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (NC Courage)
FORWARDS
Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)
* First Women’s World Cup
** Second Women’s World Cup
*** Third Women’s World Cup
**** Fourth Women’s World Cup

KEEPING SCORE

Luka Dončić, Trae Young Head NBA All-Rookie Team
Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Luka Dončić and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young have been unanimously selected to the 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Dončić and Young both received NBA All-Rookie First Team votes on all 100 ballots to finish with 200 points each.  They are joined on the NBA All-Rookie First Team by Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (195 points; 95 First Team votes), Memphis Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr. (159 points; 60 First Team votes) and Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (156 points; 56 First Team votes).

The 2018-19 NBA All-Rookie Second Team includes LA Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (138 points), Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (132), Clippers guard Landry Shamet (85), New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (77) and Hawks guard Kevin Huerter (45).

BUY SELL

Weekend Box Office May 17-19
1. John Wick 3 $57M
2. Avengers: Endgame $29.4M
3. Pokemon Detective Pikachu $24.8M
4. A Dog’s Journey $8M
5. The Hustle $6M
6. The Intruder $4M
7. Long Shot $3.4M
8,. The Sun Is Also A Star $2.6M
9. Poms $2M
10. Uglydolls $1.6M
Source: Box Office Mojo

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Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Channel Chasers

NFL UK 2019
• Oct. 6 Chicago Bears v Oakland Raiders Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
• Oct. 13 Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
• Oct. 27  Cincinnati Bengals v Los Angeles Rams Wembley Stadium
• Nov. 3 Houston Texans v Jacksonville Jaguars Wembley Stadium

NFL Mexico 2019
• Nov. 18 Kansas City  Chiefs v Los Angeles Chargers Mexico City Estadio Azteca (ESPN Monday Night Football).

Monday
Oct232017

Q&A: Panini America Puts Stock In Trade With NBA, NFL, Soccer Alliances

By Barry Janoff

October 23, 2017: Thanks to what arguably was the most hectic off-season in the history of the NBA, you literally can’t tell team rosters without a scorecard.

Or, in this case, trading cards and other products from Panini America.

To keep their products as fresh as possible, Panini was tracking the numerous trades of major stars with more intensity than ever.

The company, the official trading card partner for the NBA since 2010, has, thanks to its Panini Instant real-time trading card platform, put players in their new uniforms.

Among them is Kyrie Irving, who has an exclusive deal with Panini America, shown in his Boston Celtics uniform as part of the Panini Instant real-time trading card platform, a 14-card Tip-Off set released to coincide with the start of the 2017-18 season.

Panini Instant also has in their post-trade current uniforms Dwyane Wade (Cleveland Cavaliers), Chris Paul (Houston Rockets), Paul George (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Jimmy Butler (Minnesota Timberwolves); as well as rookies including Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum and Dennis Smith Jr..

In addition to Irving, Panini America exclusives include NBA icon Kobe Bryant; NBA stars Kevin Durant, John Wall and Blake Griffin; NFLers Andrew Luck, Dez Bryant and rookie Leonard Fournette; and U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team star Christian Pulisic.

Due this month as part of Panini America’s NBA platform is 2017-18 NBA Hoops Basketball, which includes Hot Signatures, Red Hot Signatures, Hot Signatures Rookies, Red Hot Signatures Rookies, Road to the NBA Finals, a special Kevin Durant Finals MVP card and a ten-card subset that pays tribute to the career of Kobe Bryant.

In November, 2017-18 Prizm Basketball will include Rookie Signatures featuring Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum and others from the 2017 NBA Draft class; and The Signatures autograph insert, which includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and Andrew Wiggins.

Panini America said it would support its NBA alliance throughout the season with more exclusives, multi-media marketing and onsite activation at jewel events including the NBA All-Star Game this February in Los Angeles.

The company also has alliances with the NFL, NFLPA, NHL, Nascar, MLB Players and the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia.

NYSportsJournalism spoke with Jason Howarth, VP-Marketing for Panini America, about keeping pace with the onslaught of changes in NBA, building momentum for the Road to Russia and the ongoing evolution of the trading card and memorabilia category.

NYSportsJournalism.com: It was a crazy, non-stop NBA off-season with many top players traded. What was it like keeping track of it all for your NBA card sets?

Jason Howarth: We work with a lead time. That being said, there was a lot happening every day if not every week. We spent a lot of time watching the news, keeping in touch with people, making sure we didn’t miss anything. We want our product to be as current as possible.

NYSJ: Any specific trade that impacted your product?

JH: Kyrie is one of our exclusive athletes and his trade (from the Cavaliers to the Celtics) came in late August. For our Sticker Collection, we originally had Kyrie on the cover, but he was in his Cavaliers uniform, and we had Isaiah Thomas in his Celtics uniform. We figured, What could go wrong? (Laughs.) Now, neither of them are on the cover because we didn’t have photos of them in their new uniforms before the deadline. So we have Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kristaps Porzingas (along with Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard and John Wall).

NYSJ: How did these major changes impact Panini’s NBA trading card sets?

JH: Our Panini Instant real-time trading card platform, a 14-card Tip-Off set, has players in their new uniforms, including Kyrie, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. Our first (traditional card) set of the season, 2017-18 NBA Hoops Basketball, comes out this month and the players will be in their original (pre-trade) uniforms. We will get updated photos and cards in the next set.

NYSJ: On the flip side, did all the changes during the off-season make this season even more interesting than it might already have been?

JH: There is no off-season for us. (Laughs.) As soon as these kids step off the court after the Final Four we are actively going out there and signing guys.

Rookie cards drive the category. And this has been one of the most exciting NBA rookie classes in a very long time. There is a lot of anticipation for these guys. A lot of excitement. We’re started seeing  that our collegiate basketball produce, which came out a few weeks ago. With these rookies landing on the teams they did, it makes it that much more compelling when you have that mixed in with all the changes among star players.

NYSJ: Is it similar for your NFL products?

JH: It is. There is no off-season there for us, as well. As soon as they step off the field from their Bowl games or championship game, guys like Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams, we are starting to work on projects with the players. Trying to get contracts signed. We work with them during the NFL and NBA Combines, the NFL and NBA Drafts. We see the NBA guys in Summer Leagues, so by the time we get them to the rookie NFL or NBA photo shoot, they already have engaged with us for three or four different touch-points. Our goal is to always be authentic to the athlete. And they get it.

NYSJ: What marketing support are you proving for card and app releases?

JH: It’s funny. We used to say we have a TV campaign. Now we call it a content campaign across multiple platforms. That includes digital and social media and that includes broadcast. When we bring the product to life on social media, be it an Instagram, Twitter or Facebook campaign, we want to be authentic to the players. When we released our NFL set we ran a spot, ‘We All Collect Something’ with Deshaun Watson, Leonard Fournette and other NFL rookies

For the NBA product, we will have a 60-second spot on YouTube with six NBA rookies and then a 30-second spot on broadcast including Disney XD, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and NBA TV. We want to do creative and exciting things. Let their fans see what happens behind the scenes. And we work with the players on the types of things they might like to see and try to incorporate that into the cards.

NYSJ: Do players still get excited to see themselves on trading cards?

JH: They absolutely do. It’s one of those defining moments for players. We had 40 guys at the NBA rookie photo shoot in August at the New York Knicks practice facility (in Tarrytown, NY). Prior to the shoot, putting on their NBA uniform for the first time. It’s a Wow! moment for them. When they see their cards (via the Panini Instant platform) it helps to solidify it for them, it brings it to life that they are in the NBA. It’s exciting for them. They spend a lot of time signing their cards. And to have that emotion play into your brand is unbeatable.

(Editor’s note: After seeing his rookie card, Lonzo Ball wrote on his Twitter account, “I’m so hyped to finally be in my Lakers jersey. Check out my first trading card.” De’Aaron Fox wrote on his Twitter account, “Let’s go! Finally in my Sacramento Kings uni. Go check out my first trading card.” See all the rookie cards here.)

NYSJ: Do you hear from the players later about whether or not they like their cards?

JH: We do hear from players, and sometimes from their parents, who are really excited, especially if their son is a rookie. They’ll ask how they can a get a larger version of the card to hang in their home.

NYSJ: There are platforms to collect digital cards, but do fans still enjoy holding the cards, trading them? Is that still special for them?

JH: We have diversified our strategy, but that is still a major part of what we do. Getting the physical product in the hands of fans and players. It is part of sports and collecting — getting a pack of cards in your hand and opening it to see which players you have. People still get excited about that. It doesn’t matter how old you are.

NYSJ: What is the state of the trading card category in 2017 and how have things changed?

JH: In the 1980s and 1990s it was all about fast production. Getting it as quickly as possible into the hands of consumers. We still have brands that do that. On the NBA side, we produce 28 different products per NBA calendar year. We produce 36 different products on the NFL side during an NFL calendar year. There is a range, from $1.99 sold at Target and Walmart to products that are $5,000 for ten cards in hobby stores and online. The range is dynamic in terms of what goes into the cards these days.

NYSJ: What are some of the new elements Panini America is putting out for fans and collectors?

JH: We are focused on the physical side, but we launched our NFL Blitz Digital Trading Card app at the start of the season. It’s cool and dynamic. There are a lot of opportunities in the app for fan engagement. We have contests where you take cards from your collection, put them into your lineup and get points based on the player’s actual performance on the field. We also are launching our NBA Dunk Digital Trading Card app for the start of the season.

NYSJ: Will you have a presence at the NBA All-Star Game this February in Los Angeles?

JH: We will have a big presence. We are working on those plans now. The NBA is dynamic sport for us. Of the sports in the U.S., it is truly global. We have a huge following for our NBA products in Asia. So we work with our people there and NBA China. We are planning to incorporate some of those experiences into our All-Star Game presence in Los Angeles because there is a strong connection between Asia and Los Angeles.

'We originally had Kyrie on the cover, but he was in his Cavaliers uniform, and we had Isaiah Thomas in his Celtics uniform. We figured, What could go wrong?'

NYSJ: What about soccer-related product with your FIFA World Cup alliance?

JH: We have a Select Soccer Set (hobby) due late November, Our FIFA World Cup sticker collection will launch in April. We are planing a large presence in the U.S. marketplace. Soccer is really growing in this country and this is a huge opportunity.

We have an exclusive deal with Christian Pulisic who is one of the most exciting players in the world. There are a lot of people, if they haven’t already recognized who he is from his overseas exploits, they certainly will from his play with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

NYSJ: What is hot on the entertainment side?

JH: We work with Disney and DC Comics. We just launched a Justice League trading card game and we’ll follow that up with a sticker collection. (The Justice League movie is due in theaters Nov. 17.) Then we’ll have another Justice League release in the trading card-theme category. So we are excited about that.

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