Ever collect and trade pro baseball, football, hockey, or basketball cards as a child? If you did—or still do—chances are the heavenly aroma from the Bazooka Bubble Gum that came with the packs would rock you right back to your childhood if you smelled that singularly American fragrance today.
To get an inkling of how this uniquely American tradition has flourished over time, consider this: In 1952, there was one baseball product. Today, The Topps Company produces 20 different lines featuring various styles and technologies.
SUPPORTING THE BRAND
SP&D recently visited the downtown New York offices of Topps, the leader in pro sports cards and other collectibles, to see, first hand, how portraits and action shots of pro athletes are transformed into these popular, often lucrative, collectibles.
We weaved through the facility, past licensed cards and goods, meeting with PR and brand executives, sports editors, and creative, color, and imaging specialists, who explained their part in bringing a new series to market.
It soon became clear that regardless of the role each person played in the production puzzle, supporting and protecting the brand is everyone's job #1.
The workflow is a well-orchestrated process dedicated to creating cards that will be met with enthusiasm by traders and collectors alike, who have come to rely on the brand.
Speaking of brand, Topps differentiates its product line though core brands. Among them:
•Topps Base or Flagship—company's best, top of the line
•Chrome—Topps brand shiny cards; think holograph kid cards
•Heritage--Current players on classic designs from past; packed with a piece with gum
•Finest—Topps shinies, often etched, featuring superstar players
•Bowman—Home of the Rookie card
•Total—Features most subjects of any Topps brand to stimulate set collecting.
Typically cutting across several sports, these designations signify to collectors, traders, hobby shops and retailers various Topps styles, quality tiers, and eras.
TOPPS IN THE MARKETPLACE
Always scouting for innovative ways to excite buyers and distributors, Topps conducts ongoing market research and holds regular in-house brainstorming sessions with its brand managers and sales force before launching new products.
NFL Players Association Rookie Shoot, held every year, yields some of the company's most coveted limited editions. For the past four years, Topps has created their autographed rookie cards during this event.
This past spring, Topps 50th Football Anniversary collection was an instant hit. And Major League Baseball's Old Timers and other sports legends are always in high demand.
Well aware that we are a hero- and celebrity-conscious nation, from time to time, Topps occasionally creates non-sports themed series to broaden its collector base.
Among the many special series are the U.S. Presidents, Star Wars, Pope John Paul II.
For the coming year, look for 2006 Topps Baseball cards of current players. To generate even greater collecting enthusiasm for this new series, there will be one-of-a-kind cards of 50 of the 53 Declaration of Independence signers featuring their real signatures.
For over 50 years, kids have been swapping Topps cards and packs in search of their favorite sports heroes. This month, the company is introducing a brand-new series for their youngest collectors: the Topps Amateur Sports Cards.
Targeted at 5- to 12-year olds, the cards will feature images and stats of the kids themselves.