By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
April 7, 2011: Blake Griffin's marketing dance card continues to fill up. Following recent deals with Kia and AT&T, the NBA slamma-jamma sensation has signed a new exclusive multi-year pact with Panini America, which produces the league's official trading cards.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Panini had originally signed Griffin to an exclusive rookie deal for the 2009-10 season when he was selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. But a pre-season injury forced him to miss the entire campaign, and the NBA then designated 2010-11 as his rookie season.
According to the Irving, Texas-based card company, Griffin's Panini rookie cards from the 2009-10 National Treasures basketball set "have sold for as much as $4,000 this season [and] scarcer copies of the card have fetched as much as $7,000."
Griffin joins a roster of NBA players exclusive to Panini that includes Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder and John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick of the Washington Wizards in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Griffin, who won the 2011 Sprite Slam Dunk contest and is a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honors, also has a deal with Nike that likely will lead to a line of signature shoes.
As part of the Panini alliance, Griffin will be featured on products and packaging, as well as in Panini's national advertising, marketing and social media initiatives.
Griffin, Bryant, Durant and Wall will also be the faces of the company's new Panini Authentic memorabilia division, scheduled to launch in May. In addition, they will be highlighted in the Panini HRX, what the company is calling the "industry's first video trading cards." In development for past year and a half, they are "designed to bring collectors closer to the athletes with unique behind-the-scenes content and individualized footage," per Panini.
"Blake has captured the imagination of millions of people across the world this season — fans and non-fans alike — and we saw him as a must-have player," Mark Warsop, CEO of Panini America, said in a statement. "His unique blend of athleticism, power and tenacity make him an unparalleled talent on the court. We're thrilled to have him join our family."
"Blake has captured the imagination of millions of people across the world this season and we saw him as a must-have player."
According to Griffin, "Panini America will forever hold a special place for me because it's the company that helped make a dream come true by producing my first NBA trading cards. The opportunity to join the Panini family and work with a company that is at the forefront of innovation and has reinvigorated the trading card category is special."
The Panini Group, based in Italy, purchased trading-card company Donruss in March 2009 and formed Panini America, which became the exclusive trading card partner of the NBA beginning with the 2009-10 season. Panini also has an exclusive relationship with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in the U.S. has official licenses for the NBA, NFL, NHL, FIFA, Disney, DreamWorks, Warner Bros. and other properties.
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