Collecting sports cards is becoming an increasingly global phenomenon, reaching far beyond those who are entrenched within the confines of their favorite pastime. Topps is taking advantage of this wide-scale attention by featuring pop-culture celebrities in its 2021 Allen and Ginter Baseball release.
Singer Marc Anthony headlines this year’s set, followed by actor Jason Biggs and ESPN personality Sarah Spain. Other recognizable names include chef José Andrés, USWNT member Rose Lavelle and actor Bobby Moynihan. All are included with the hopes of their cache pulling in fans from outside the hobby to the product.
“The best part about Allen and Ginger is how many different people it reaches simply because of the amount of different people that are included in the set,” Emily Kless, Topps communications manager said during a phone interview. “It really goes to show you how many different types of fandoms are out there; people who may follow BMX, people who may follow chefs, entrepreneurs, actors or stand-up comedians.
“There is really something for everyone in this. No matter who you’re a fan of, or what you’re a fan of, there’s some sort of connection that you can make to Allen & Ginter. I think that really brings in the casual collector because it’s a fun set. I mean who doesn’t want to open up a box of Allen & Ginter and get Marc Anthony in there?”
Topps has taken advantage of its social media platforms to crowdsource the celebrities included in the set. Topps ran a campaign asking fans to send in their suggestions for the set, something they feel increases brand loyalty and engagement with the product.
“The cool thing about Allen & Ginter is that so many of the talent that you see in the final checklist are actually fan suggestions,” she said. “Topps opens it up to our fans and followers on social media by calling for submissions and suggestions, asking folks to tag their favorite, artists and celebrities.
“A lot of times that’s just the way that we create the setlist. It’s pretty unique because the fans have such a great say in what goes in the final checklist. To be able to include [their voices] so we know we’re producing a product that fans want to see, with the people they want to see, is a really unique aspect of it.”
This set also allows Topps to showcase significant women in baseball, including two history makers, San Francisco Giants coach Alyssa Nakken and Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng. It is a trend that Kless feels gives Topps the ability to celebrate their talents and draw more females towards what has been a traditionally male dominated hobby.
“I think she [Ng] is just so iconic as far as being a leader for women in sports,” she said. “It’s really cool to see her as part of the set this year. She has the connection to baseball and now she’s got her official Topps card. I think there’s also a lot of great women in sports throughout the checklist as well.”
Allen and Ginter arrived right after the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago, which drew close to an estimated 100,000 customers in July for the five-day event. With collectors experiencing fatigue from the resulting social media barrage, Kless said this release’s celebrity charged format makes it something a broader group can get into and enjoy.
“I think it’s our time to have fun and just breathe some fresh life into the hobby coming out of the National,” Kless said. “It just dropped at the perfect time because we know there’s casual fans that show up for Allen and Ginter, so it’s really fun to see a different side of the trading card world to be able to collect cards and celebrate Allen and Ginter.”
Original posted at www.forbes.com