MLBPA to run larger TV campaign this season

Television ads promoting baseball cards made a long-awaited return to the airwaves last season. The response generated by those ads has convinced the MLB Players Association to run a more extensive campaign this season.

“The ads generated a lot of attention and interest in baseball cards,” said Evan Kaplan, the MLBPA’s category director for trading cards and collectibles.

“Obviously, we heard from the hobby that their customers were talking about the ads. But the ads also generated a lot of attention for the category beyond the hobby. Articles in the Wall Street Journal and Business Week make buyers take notice at the efforts we are making to re-energize interest in baseball cards, most specifically with kids.”

The MLBPA is planning two flights for its ad campaign. The first is expected to coincide with the start of the season. The commercial will be a revised version of the ad that ran last year and highlights the basic fun of collecting.

The second campaign will debut in June and run for most of the summer. These commercials will focus on a comprehensive baseball card promotion that will be available through mass retail and hobby stores. Specially marked packs of Ultra, Topps Series Two and Upper Deck Series Two will feature randomly inserted Instant Win cards.

There will be a wide assortment of prizes, with the grand prize being two trips for families to attend the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium and participate in an on-field experience prior to the game.

“When we were creating this contest, we polled kids to find out what would be the coolest baseball prize they could ever imagine winning,” Kaplan said. “And the most common answer was the chance to meet players – specifically the best players in the game.”

More details regarding the national promotion will be announced in the near future, but Kaplan said it will also be supported with print and online marketing. Hobby stores will be offered point-of-purchase materials to highlight the sweepstakes in their stores.

This year’s TV ads will be created by Uproar!, a kid-focused marketing agency an advertising agency with offices in New York and Dallas that has done work with numerous kids including Hasbro and Marvel. The ads will air on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and other youth-targeted broadcast programming.

Kaplan said more details regarding this program and other marketing initiatives will be unveiled at next month’s Hawaii Trade Conference/Mainland Edition show in Fort Lauderdale.

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