When Donruss staffers were busy last summer building the list of autograph signers for its new Americana product, they expected the cards signed by various Hollywood legends, sports stars and other famous Americans would generate some buzz. Little did they know that one of the least-known signers at the time would trigger a surge in media interest once the set was released.
Then again, few people in the country had heard of Mike Huckabee when Americana was in the developmental stage. But when Americana released just days after Huckabee was the winner among Republicans in the Iowa caucus, media outlets took notice of the fact Donruss was offering his autograph as part of the Americana set.
“The last few days, I’ve been overwhelmed with people calling about the set,” said Scott Prusha, director of marketing for Donruss. “We’ve had calls from outlets such as USA Today to owners of card shops wanting to know more about how we got his autograph in the set. It’s really opened some doors to people who are not typical collectors, and getting them interested in our industry again.”
Prusha said the company did its autograph signing with Huckabee this past summer. “Rodney Alsup, our hobby sales manager, said one of his friends knew Huckabee and said we should consider him because he was running for president,” Prusha said. “Well, we wanted to include various political figures in the set, so we decided to pursue it. Rodney flew up to Amarillo, Texas, and met him at a campaign function and had him sign the cards for us and get a shirt from him that he wore while campaigning that we used on a memorabilia card.”
Huckabee’s rise to fame last week in Iowa has boosted interest in his cards. Prusha said one of the cards featuring the shirt swatch and autograph sold for more than $100 on eBay.
Prusha said the feedback from Americana has been positive to date, even beyond the Huckabee factor. “We’re getting a lot of other calls from people who want to know more about the cards of people like Marilyn Monroe or Marlin Brando,” he said. “We’re also hearing some neat things like guys are opening product with their wives, or buying boxes to give to parents or grandparents. People seem to be having a lot of fun with the product, reading the card backs more than a typical sports collector would. The bottom line is it’s getting people who may not normally visit a hobby shop to stop in and make a purchase. That was our goal with this product, so it’s been a fun couple of days to hear what’s been happening.”