New Panini card game hoping to increase children collecting numbers

Prior to getting its exclusive trading card license from the NBA, officials at Panini America were faced with the challenge of finding a way to get today’s youth interested in the card collecting hobby.

Company officials then set out to prove to NBA officials that the daunting task could be accomplished. So they rolled a out proven formula and looked for ways to transfer the company’s global success here in the States.

Fast forward to a little more than a year since the Italian-based company was named the NBA’s exclusive trading card partner and you’ll see the company’s biggest promotional effort ready for liftoff.

“Right away. That was really one of the reasons that Panini did get the exclusive in the first place,” Panini America Marketing Manager Scott Prusha said. “They told them that they would take a different approach to marketing and a different approach to their products in general that would be different from what the other people had done.”

After enjoying a great deal of success with its soccer trading card game (Foot 2010) overseas, Panini America officials transferred the basic concept into a basketball format and the Adrenalyn XL Basketball trading card game was born.

The game targets children aged 6-11 and incorporates an interactive online element that should keep the attention of today’s young gaming audience. The basic concept of Adrenalyn XL is fairly simplistic and children can square off playing face to face or they can challenge other opponents by logging online ( For a $5.99 purchase, children will get everything they need to get started, including a high-quality gameboard, an album with dozens of protective sleeves to house their cards, a rules sheet and four packs of cards (six cards per) to assemble their team.

“You don’t see many products that are low SRPed with that type of quality to them,” Prusha said. “They’re not autographs, they’re not memorabilia. It’s meant to be collected, played with and traded. And that’s what the push was right from the very beginning was to create a product like this.”

From there, children assemble a team of 10 players, with each trading card listing the player’s position along with their offensive and defensive skill levels. Once both players have put their 10-player teams together, they designate five starters and five bench players. The game tips off with one player selecting one of his cards to go against one of the opponent’s. The two chosen player cards are then flipped over and if the shooter’s offensive skill level is greater than the opponent’s defeinsive skill level number, he scores. The  player’s take turns going back and forth on offense until all five starters have been challeneged and then both player’s reassembling their lineups and play continues for four quarters of action with the highest scorer winning the game.

To utilize the game’s online component, children can log on to the website and register their cards by typing in the code found on the card backs. Once they’ve registered their team of cards, online play is opened up as well as an area to chat with other players and make trades for their favorite player cards.    
The game hit retail outlets like Kmart, Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Dick’s Sporting Goods and any of the NBA Team Retailers just in time for the NBA’s marquee event, All-Star Weekend. Because the game was in Dallas (Panini America’s home base) this year, officials utilized the logistic-friendly location to kick off the huge promotional effort behind the product.

One of the promotional tools Panini will utilize is bringing the new product directly to consumers via the newspaper.

“We looked at it from an impressions standpoint and determined that there’s nothing simpler than a newspaper that goes right into people’s homes and we’re going to put packs of cards in every newspaper here in the metroplex area and in Miami, so we’re talking about almost 1.5 million packs and gameboards that will  go directly into people’s hands at home,” Prusha said. “So, we’re trying to penetrate the markets, get people excited, back it up with advertsiing and just create a nice buzz around this product.”

In addition to the newspaper promotion, the company plans to hit the streets and provide children with a first-hand introduction to the product.

“We’re going to go to approximately 15 cities and we have a big relationship with the Basketball HOF and that will be a stop. So there not all specific to teams, but we do have contracts with some teams including the Lakers and some other teams that we’re going to announce in the coming weeks,” Prusha said. What we’ve done is we’re going to go into a city and try to get as many impressions as we can per city. So what we’re going to do is follow up the sampling and the Tour with some newspaper promotions that we have going, as well as some TV, some radio and we’re talking about doing some theatre advertising as well. We’re trying to get packs and products in the kids hands and then support it with some other forms of advertising”

The major-league promotional effort includes autograph sessions with some of Panini’s exclusive athletes and an Adrenalyn XL Tour Bus that would make John Madden envious. 

“There’s a Tour bus that pulls in with interactive components for kids. There are kiosks where they can register online and there are  kiosks where they can even play online and we’re going to have autograph guests out there signing so when we go into a new market it’s going to be like, ‘Hey come on out and meet so and so, see the Adrenalyn Tour.’ We’re introducing them to the brand, introducing them to trading cards, and having them interact and play with some of the components that we have going on.”

It appears to just be a matter of time before Panini has fulfilled its promise to the NBA by delivering a new product children will really embrace.

“Everybody has been embracing this and have just blown away by the marketing efforts that we’re puting behind it,” Prusha said. “That’s what has everybody excited.” SCM

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