Panini America’s first act as the “official trading card of the 2009 NFL Draft” is sure to have veteran collectors buzzing just as loudly as those boisterous New Yorkers watching the festivities from inside New York’s historic Radio City Music Hall.
Through a unique marketing partnership with Sprint, Panini America created 200 cards each of seven high-profile first-day picks — Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree, Percy Harvin, Chris “Beanie” Wells and Knowshon Moreno. When the respective player was selected on Saturday, Sprint encouraged fans in attendance to text for a chance to win one of the special Panini America cards. Winners were then notified to visit the Panini America booth in Radio City Music Hall to receive their card.
Oh, and the catch? Panini America’s Joe White and Ben Ecklar put the finishing touches on each card — a logo bearing the respective player’s new NFL helmet — by hand at the booth.
“The promotion was a tremendous success,” White said from New York City. “We were able to share some truly unique cards with some truly fanatical NFL fans. We were building the cards as the players were getting drafted. There was a feeding frenzy on Sanchez. Being in New York, his card was gone quickly. Very quickly.”
Most of the others were, too. A Stafford card has already hit eBay with a Buy It Now price of $150.
White and Ecklar took advantage of their locale by getting cards into the hands of ESPN draft gurus Chris Berman and Mel Kiper Jr. They also spent quality time with Stafford, the Dallas native and No. 1 overall pick of the Lions, in his hotel room just prior to the start of the draft. White admitted that Stafford, his father and his agent were blown away by seeing the high-profile quarterback’s first Detroit Lions card.
And yes, Stafford did sign a precious small quantity of his card.
— Tracy Hackler