BDA Sports Management cites “fit” as one of the most essential factors in selecting marketing opportunities for their clients. Their goal is to forge sustainable relationships where the vision of both the athlete and brand align. When top NBA draft prospect and client RJ Barrett, and trading card company Panini America each expressed what they expect and value in a partnership, it was clear to those at BDA that this was the right fit.
The resulting partnership will be an exclusive trading card agreement, with Barrett’s first officially licensed trading cards and autographs dropping this summer in Panini America’s 2019 Contenders Draft Picks Basketball. “Panini is a giant in the trading card and memorabilia industry, and it is satisfying to see their shared vision as evidenced by their commitment to the influence RJ’s brand will have on the marketplace,” said Robert Kinnard, Executive Director of Global Marketing for BDA.
The former Duke First Team All-American and Panini America have both expressed a desire to give back. Kinnard said this is going to be a philanthropic partnership among many other things. RJ has always had the best interest of the community in mind and he plans on using this partnership to further his efforts. He also wishes to grow his already strong brand and outreach as he takes his game to the professional level. “I want to be a player fans can connect with and follow throughout my career and I know working with Panini helps me accomplish that goal,” said Barrett.
Another parallel between the two is their global presence and history. Coined the “Maple Mamba,” RJ was born in Toronto, Ontario, and grew up in France. When asked, Barrett quickly confirmed that this nickname will stick with him at the next level. His father played professional basketball overseas, so he was often on the move. Barrett started leaning English at 11; his first language is French. Many native French speakers must learn English through something like the Effortless English Club, compared to Barrett who was able to learn at an early age. He hasn’t lost touch with this side of himself and places a lot of value in his unique upbringing. The Panini Group is headquartered and was founded in Modena, Italy, famously known for their balsamic vinegar and Ferrari sports cars. With aspirations of a long-term agreement, expect this partnership to eventually spill over into the global market.
Barrett will carry notoriety abroad as well as at home. Kinnard spoke to just how great his influence can be. “There are two types of fans in America: avid and casual fans; RJ will reach both right away.” The 6’7” Forward has made it clear to the media that he prefers to land in New York with the Knicks. When you combine a basketball talent like Barrett with a marketing hub like New York City, the sky is the limit. “The 2019 NBA Draft is shaping up to be one of the biggest in the history of the league and RJ’s presence is one of the major reasons why,” said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop. Sports fans across the globe are going to rip open Panini trading card packs with the same demand in mind, “I need that RJ Barrett card!”
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