Upper Deck Reconnects with Youngsters By Creating Industry's First Kids Reward Program; MLB Campaign Begins April 1, Emphasizes 'Every Card is of Value'
Mar 29, 2006

Among Prizes for Registering Cards, Redeeming Them for Points: a Private Clinic with Derek Jeter

CARLSBAD, Calif. (March 29, 2006) -- Baseball hall-of-famer and Cleveland Indians great Bob Lemon once said: "Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up."

However, in the world of baseball cards, it's the adult collector base that has helped support the category for years.

Looking to grow a new generation of enthusiasts, Upper Deck is launching the trading card industry's first-ever Kids Reward program. The program is simple: kids buy packs of any 2006 Upper Deck Baseball product, register the four-digit alpha-numeric code found on the back of their cards -- and get a point award for each unique card. Kids can then redeem their points for prizes.

Along with video games, iTunes songs, movie passes and autographed memorabilia, every card entered is an entry into a sweepstakes to win the reward program's grand prize: a private clinic with all-star shortstop Derek Jeter.

The program starts April 1 and will be hosted at Upper Deck's kids-specific Web site, www.upperdeckkids.com.

"Through extensive research, we've learned that most trading card collectors are over 35," said Upper Deck senior marketing manager Kerri Stockholm. "Because of that, the industry has become less kid-friendly, with more of a focus toward older customers that buy cards on speculation."

"While not wanting to alienate our solid core of older collectors, we realized the need to build for the next 10, 20 years -- not just for tomorrow," continued Stockholm. "We had to reconnect with and create interest among kids, making cards relevant to them again."

To do that, Stockholm mentioned their efforts must do two things: add an element of interactivity while also giving each card -- non-dependent of what player is featured -- a significant and relatable value.

"Our reward program is unique in that Upper Deck cards will have varying point values. Kids are encouraged to register all of their cards to find out how many points they're worth," said Stockholm.

"And, points are random: an A-Rod or a top rookie isn't necessarily worth more points than a so-called common card. No longer will cards be discarded, put away to collect dust in a shoebox. Every card is now worth something to someone, whether they're building a set of their favorite team, a collection of their favorite players -- or trying to increase their rewards point total."

Rewards Program for All MLB Sets, Not Just Higher-Priced Cards
Another element to attract kids is keeping the cost of cards low.

"For many young collectors, price point is a major factor," said Stockholm. "It's also something that parents -- who help drive buying decisions -- take into account when steering their children toward certain sets or packs."

According to Upper Deck, every card in every baseball set -- from its $2.99-a-pack UD Series 1 to the 99-cent First Pitch -- will be a part of the rewards program. And, points-per-card won't be based on the cost of the set.

Said Stockholm: "In fact, First Pitch is the first product to include codes for the Kids Rewards program."

"Even though it only hit retail last month, we've already seen a tremendous response, with kids anxious to go online when the program goes live next week to see the value of their cards, be that much closer to winning prizes."

Upper Deck will have 20 MLB sets in the Kids Reward program mix.

Not Just MLB; Kids Campaign to Carry Over to Other Sports This Fall
In a ESPN Sports Poll unveiled last week, more than half of kids aged seven to 11 (54.4 percent) chose Major League Baseball as its sports league of chose when it came to collecting cards.

Following MLB: the NFL (39.6 percent), the NBA (25.7) and the NHL (7).

"We know that baseball is still the most popular sports card category among kids," said Stockholm. "Because of that, we wanted to use baseball to launch the Kids Rewards program. But, the program will be extended to our NFL, NBA and NHL product lines throughout the year."

"The momentum we gain will carry over," she continued. "After participating for months, kids will not only begin to tell their friends -- creating a word-of-mouth buzz -- but then incorporate the rewards program into their daily hobby routine, returning to the Web site on a regular basis, inspiring future purchase and program participation."

Timing for non-MLB product launch, reward program integration: NFL (August), NBA (September), NHL (October).

Reward Program Trend: Airlines and Credit Cards
"Reward programs aren't new. Airlines and credit card companies have had them for years," said Stockholm.

Stockholm continued: "But they're geared toward adults, and they don't inspire social interaction among them to gain points. Their loyalty to a brand goes only so far as the miles gained or gasoline dollars earned, not by a passion to be a part of a community."

"Also: oftentimes that prize is years in the making," she said. "With Upper Deck's Kids Reward program, the gratification is nearly immediate."

Reward points per card vary, starting at 50 and going as high as 250, with an average of 100 points per card. The starting prize redemption for Upper Deck's kids reward program will be 1000.

"We too hope to lead the trend in our industry, building a program that will grow Upper Deck's business in the decades to come."

About the Upper Deck Company
Founded in 1988, The Upper Deck Co. is a premier global sports and entertainment-publishing company that delivers a portfolio of relevant, innovative and multi-dimensional product experiences to collectors, sports and entertainment enthusiasts.


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