Monday, March 15, 2010

Gimmick or Great Marketing

What do Alex Gordon, Geroge W Bush, Mickey Mantle have in common? They have all been featured in recent years by Topps as a "short-printed" chase element.

It should come as no surprise then, that this year's Topps flagship baseball set contains another quirk. As revealed late last week, there exist variations of Chicago Cubs players' cards with the likes of none other than Honest Abe himself, 16th President of the United States of America.

If you have been living under a rock, the are card #'s:

#135 Ryan Dempster
#306 Milton Bradley
#326 Tyler Colvin
#123 Jeff Samardzija

In all likelihood being from more downstate, Abraham Lincoln would have been a St. Louis Cardinals fan, so Topps obliged and crafted a variant of card #90 Roger Hornsby.

You can see all of the cards and the ridiculous prices they are realizing on the secondary market here.

So my question then is, are these cards gimmicks or simply a hobby worth PR stunt? I am a bit undecided myself. Some may question why I included the Alex Gordon card from 2006 (Topps #297). The answer is simple- because I don't believe for a minute that the printing and pack-out of that card was an error. No, instead it was a carefully crafted marketing ploy to increase demand for Topps 2006 Series 1.

So gimmick or not?

Your thoughts . . .

5 comments:

Cardboard Icons said...

Of course it's a gimmick, but that does not mean they are crap. Like many others, I'd love to have pulled one of these for the sole purpose of re-selling it. It's not the kind of thing I would collect, but the Topps-fanatics are going nuts for them. In short, the idea doesn't really bother me. It actually makes people stop and pay attention to their base cards, which could be seen as a great marketing idea.

Kevin Thatcher said...

100% Gimmick. But one that I think has a positive impact on the hobby nonetheless. I like to get a box of Topps I every year as soon as they are released because it is, for me, a rite of spring. And looking at the cards helps bridge the gap from the Super Bowl to opening day. If I can get one of these cards and sell it. Then that entertainment is free.

John said...

I think Gordon was an honest to goodness mistake which was a screw up because of the new rookie card rules. However, because of that incident - it spew a whole lot of contrived variations. However, I think the Honest ABE, ESPECIALLY THE CARD OF HIM IN THE STANDS, was a way cool idea.

Rob- AKA "VOTC" said...

I have to admit. I like the Abe cards being "discovered" too

The Wax Wombat said...

As long as Topps doesn't go gimmick crazy, I think it's great. One, two gimmicks per set is just fine. I also think this is great from the aspect that people will stop and carefully examine cards rather than thumbing through them quick-like to get to the sps or inserts.

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