Can You Topps These?

The Topps Company has had various fits and starts in its existence and now is trying to survive in a digital world where traditional sports car collecting is interesting but no longer essential for those who follow a team. The collectable card company one had a host of brands vying for attention, but today, while several still exist, Topps still has probably the biggest recall for brand banes by the casual fan.

In recent years they have tried video, digital cards, companion projects and special events to try and draw more attention to their brand and keep growing in a really challenging market.

So it should come as no surprise to those who enjoy the brand and follow the company that as pitchers and catchers reported, Topps found its way into the baseball news, not once but twice this week.

First the company pared with the Detroit Tigers to unveil Topps unveiled the world’s largest baseball card on Tuesday, measuring 90 feet by 60 feet  (very nice touch on the baseball-like card dimensions)_. The larger than life image of The Detroit Tigers Prince Fielder graced the teams’ main field in Lakeland, Florida and broke up a relatively quiet sports week. It got the Tigers some pop as pitchers and catchers reported, and served as a reminder that Topps is still a string brand to remember tied directly to the sport that helped bring it to the forefront…baseball/

The next move for attention this week from the brand was the exact opposite of its loud large card statement. It was quiet and very effective to gain out the card company into the mainstream. The strong regional website Chicagoside caught on to the fact that all-time MLB hit leader Pete Rose has been omitted from the new  “Career Chase,” category on the 2013 series of cards. The addition indicates how close — or far — that player is from some MLB milestone along with the player that holds the record.

On at least two cards… the Chicago Cubs’ Starlin Castro and the Chicago White Sox’s A.J. Pierzynski…the number of Rose’s record, 4,256 career hits is listed, but no mention of his name. Now there is no precedent before this year since the category is new on Topps’ cards, but it does set up a unique future collectable making the move valuable to the brand and its fans in addition to just being a “stunt” like the large card. The move will re-stir a debate amongst the baseball world as to Rose’s Hall of Fame ineligibility, and may even find its way into the former slugger’s reality show, giving Topps another media bump down the line.

Now none of these will cure the ills of the card industry or tilt the scales and the ledger sheet for Topps…the cards are still static offerings in a world that craves immediate updates, but they do serve as very well placed reminders of the brands creativity and draw, with maybe more newsworthy notes on the way as games begin.

The stunts cost relatively little and brought relevance to Topps, which both are string signs of a brand that understands the value of setting itself apart while reminding its core audience that they are here to stay.

A good start to baseball for a brand that built itself around the diamond and its millions of fans.