Archive for Entertainment
I remember early in my career with Upper Deck working in the Customer Care team where I was talking with a very irate collector about delays on his Ken Griffey Jr. redemption card. He shared, “If you don’t have the card, don’t put a redemption in the pack in the first place!”
I thought to myself, “That makes a lot of sense.” What I didn’t fully grasp at the time was how could you not include someone the caliber of Ken Griffey Jr. in a pack? He’s too important to just leave out. Also, if Upper Deck was to just completely pull some of these cards, they wouldn’t hit the insert ratios published on the packs. On top of that, as many of these cards are numbered as part of a set, there would be obvious holes which collectors really tend to despise.
But that collector had a point and as we heard others share the same sentiment, the company made a variety of fundamental changes to improve the way Upper Deck handles redemption programs. These changes were not really things that collectors have noticed, but they have most certainly had an impact. All of these changes are designed to give collectors the best pack opening experience in the industry by eliminating the total amount of redemptions in new UD products.
- Increase signing time: Wherever we can we are giving athletes more time to sign and return items to UD for inclusion in new trading card sets.
- Strong network of witnesses: Upper Deck has developed an incredibly comprehensive database of witnesses to assist with signing sessions not only in North America, but throughout the world.
- Paying on time: Athletes are more apt to participate in signing programs if they are paid in a timely fashion and Upper Deck has really improved how quickly the company pays partners.
- Avoiding use of slower signers: Athletes who have a track record of being a problem signer are not receiving new trading card deals from Upper Deck. There are some exceptions of course; those superstar athletes who have so much on their plate and only do a couple signing sessions a year still are used in sets. These athletes always sign, but we hate making our collectors wait too long there so we typically limit their use when long wait times are expected.
- Delaying product launches: Shop owners are not big fans of this one, but if we can push the release of a product back and get a couple thousand more autograph cards live in packs, we can provide collectors with a better pack opening experience.
- Pulling redemptions from new products: Much to the collectors delight in my early example, we have been following his advice over the last couple years in particular. If the cards we are waiting on are of fringe players, more often than not we will pull them from packs. Now that means we will have to produce less product and ultimately make less money, but it is for the good of the product and the brand as a whole. If including redemptions for sub-par players who are going to take forever to sign is going to make the company a few extra bucks today, it will ultimately lose the company money as collectors have a bad experience with the product and don’t come back. We want to avoid that whenever possible.
- Mystery redemptions: Most collectors I speak to tend to have mixed feelings on these programs, usually their feeling on it is tied directly to the random player they ultimately receive. Having some groups of redemptions listed as a “mystery” helps us by producing less redemption cards than we have cards outstanding for and then seeing who returns the cards back first. Once we have enough in we can begin fulfilling to fans and cut ties with the others who haven’t signed yet. This reduces situations where a collector is waiting over six months for a redemption card to be fulfilled.
- Autograph labels: A lot of manufactures use label cards because they are just really easy to execute, but we have heard loud and clear collectors do not like them. While they do help in reducing the potential for redemptions, they give the feel of a less quality product. Upper Deck avoids using autograph labels on higher-end products, but they do have a use in more mainstream releases and products with lower price points.
- Seasoned athlete relations team: Upper Deck has ramped up the company’s athlete relations team over the last year in particular and has some of the most seasoned employees in the industry running point at working with the company’s stable of athletes. We have cultivated good relationships that are paying dividends with getting cards back from signers.
- Improved turnaround time on items in house: If we have a card available in house, it is our goal to get those cards to customers as quickly as possible. Where that process used to take months, it is now just taking a matter of weeks and at times just days from when a customer redeems as card.
Have these changes really made any difference? They have indeed. Check out these stats on products Upper Deck has released with zero autograph redemptions redeemable online over the last four years and see the different these changes have made in the last two years in particular.
Year % of products with 0 auto redemptions
2009 17 of 64 products – 27%
2010 6 of 30 products – 20 %
2011 16 of 30 products – 53%
2012 15 of 31 products – 48%
Worthy of note, in 2011 and again in 2012 six of the products that had redemptions had less than 3% total in the product. So the total amount of redemptions that can be found in those products is incredibly low.
Now does this mean everything is perfect with the company’s redemption programs? Certainly not. There are a myriad of situations that can arise when you handle sending and receiving hundreds of thousands of cards from players all over the world throughout the year. We understand it can be frustrating waiting for your favorite athlete to sign and we will continue to put the pressure on our signers to get their cards back in an expeditious fashion. We also believe there is still room to get better at redemption fulfillment even though huge strides have been made. We felt inclined to share the company has made a drastic improvement however with regard to these programs and fans should expect to see more of that.
For reference, here is a list of the products going back to 2009 that packed out with zero autograph redemptions redeemable online.
|UD Product Name with Zero Auto Redemptions||Release|
|2008-09 NHL Upper Deck Series 2||2009|
|2008-09 NBA Skybox||2009|
|2009 MLB First Edition||2009|
|2009 Upper Deck Soccer||2009|
|2008-09 NHL O-Pee-Chee Update||2009|
|2008-09 NHL Be-A-Player||2009|
|2009 MLB UDx||2009|
|2009-10 NHL Victory||2009|
|2009-10 NHL Fleer Ultra||2009|
|2009 NFL Upper Deck||2009|
|2009-10 NBA First Edition||2009|
|2009 NFL First Edition||2009|
|2009-10 NHL Artifacts||2009|
|2009-10 NHL Upper Deck Series 1||2009|
|2009 NFL UD Black||2009|
|2009-10 NHL MVP||2009|
|2009-10 NHL Black Diamond||2009|
|2009 USA Baseball Box Set||2010|
|2009 Iron Man 2||2010|
|2010 Upper Deck Soccer||2010|
|2010 Sweet Spot Football||2010|
|2010 SPX Football||2010|
|2010-11 NHL O-Pee-Chee||2010|
|2011 Upper Deck World of Sports||2011|
|2010-11 NHL Upper Deck Series 2||2011|
|2011 Upper Deck UNC Basketball||2011|
|2011 Upper Deck Soccer||2011|
|2011 Marvel Beginnings I||2011|
|2011 SP Legendary Cuts Baseball||2011|
|2011 Captain America||2011|
|2011 Marvel Kree Skrull||2011|
|2011-12 NHL Victory||2011|
|2011-12 NHL Artifacts||2011|
|2011112 NHL O-Pee-Chee||2011|
|2011 Upper Deck Oklahoma Football||2011|
|2011-12 NHL Upper Deck Series 1||2011|
|2011 UpperDeckUniversity of Texas Football||2011|
|2011 SP Game-Used Soccer||2011|
|2011-12 NHL Black Diamond||2012|
|2012 Upper Deck World of Sports||2012|
|2011-12 NHL Upper Deck Series 2||2012|
|2012 Upper Deck Football||2012|
|2012 SP Signature Baseball||2012|
|2011 USA Football Box Set||2012|
|2012 Marvel Beginnings II||2012|
|2012-13 NHL O-Pee-Chee||2012|
|2012 Upper Deck Alabama Football||2012|
|2012-13 NHL Upper Deck Series 1||2012|
|2012 All-Time Greats Multi-Sport||2012|
|2012-13 NHL Black Diamond||2012|
|2012 Marvel Beginnings III||2012|
|2012 USA Football Box Set||2012|
I am currently celebrating my 15th year working with Upper Deck and I am always amazed by how much I have learned and grown in my time here. But you don’t have to work for the company for over a decade to learn about the business. In fact, we have a new crop of interns that work with us each semester and frequently over the winter and summer breaks who love being able to learn about the sports and entertainment collectibles industry first-hand. Just recently we were privileged to have Taylor Madigan and Bill Chen working with us over the winter break. These Cal Berkeley freshmen were a huge help to our marketing and entertainment teams. Here’s a little bit on what they enjoyed most from their experience working with UD:
“For the past few weeks we had the wonderful opportunity of interning at Upper Deck. This has been a fantastic first internship for the both of us! We were surrounded by a supportive and helpful team and gained valuable hands-on experience in areas such as marketing, research and customer care.
“Much of our time at Upper Deck revolved around the development and promotion of the new Marvel deck-building game called Legendary™. At first, our perspective was that of consumers unfamiliar with deck-building games, but under the guidance of the game developers, we quickly mastered the game’s concepts and were able to assist the team with promoting the fun of the game in the market.
“Although Legendary™ contains over 500 playable cards with more on the way, the game itself is very easy to learn. The game brings to life some of Marvel’s most memorable characters and the original artwork is beautifully crafted where players often stop to admire some of the scenes depicted. The game contains competitive and co-operative elements, appealing to the cutthroat and the collaborative player; but more than anything, it is just a lot of fun to play!
“It was a rewarding experience working with the talented and creative Upper Deck staff who work on Legendary™ and it is clear to us the game has a bright future. Being able to learn how a company works to develop a game like this and roll it out to their fans was awesome to behold. There was so much happening behind the scenes that fans don’t realize happens in bringing a game like this to market, but we are sure happy we were able to learn about it as it was an eye-opening experience to say the least. Thanks for the opportunity Upper Deck!”
If you are currently enrolled in college and are interested in an internship opportunity with Upper Deck, please email your resume to UpperDeckMarketing@upperdeck.com along with information on your availability. We are always looking to bring on a few good interns to help with new products and programs!
Upper Deck is always looking to provide our worldwide collectors with the most innovative, high-quality collectibles in the marketplace. In our quest to be the best, we find it meaningful to take some time to reflect on what we have done in the past and find out what our customers enjoyed the most. And that’s where you come in. Help us make a better product by taking a few minutes to submit your vote for the 2012 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Awards. Let us know what you enjoyed the most so we can try to bring more great innovation and value to our collectors in the future. We promise it won’t take long and we think you will actually enjoy reflecting on some of the cool cards and programs that Upper Deck brought to you in 2012. We take votes until Friday, December 28, 2012.
Want to get a better feel for the categories and nominees? Take a look:
Autographed Rookie Card of the Year
2011 Exquisite Collection Football Autograph Patch Cam Newton
Unsigned Rookie Card of the Year
2011 SP Game-Used Soccer Authentic Rookies Alex Morgan
Trading Card of the Year
2011-12 Fleer Retro Basketball Precious Metal Gems Red Michael Jordan
2012 SP Authentic Golf Sign of the Times Dual Michael Jordan/Tiger Woods
Most Innovative Card/Set of the Year
2011-12 NHL Black Diamond Championship Rings
Memorabilia/Relic Card/Set of the Year
2011 SP Game-Used Soccer Supreme Fabrics
Insert Set of the Year (No Auto/No Memorabilia)
2012 Upper Deck Football Sepia Rookies
Hobby Product of the Year
2011 Exquisite Collection Football
2011-12 Exquisite Collection Basketball
2011-12 NHL The Cup
2011-12 Fleer Retro Basketball
2012 Goodwin Champions
2012 Marvel Premier
2012 SP Authentic Golf
2012 Upper Deck All-Time Greats Sports Edition
Retail Product of the Year
2011 Upper Deck World of Sport
2012 Upper Deck Football
2011-12 NHL Upper Deck Series Two
2012 Marvel Avengers Assemble
2012 Goodwin Champions
2012-13 NHL Upper Deck Series One
Most Improved Product of the Year
2012-13 NHL Artifacts
2012 Upper Deck Football
2012 SPx Football
2011-12 SP Authentic Basketball
2012 Goodwin Champions
Marketing Program of the Year
Cards2Kids Charity Partnership
Diamond Club Program
Expired Redemption Raffle
National Hockey Card Day
Priority Signings & Case Breaker Promotions
Upper Deck’s Military Sampling & Donations
Volunteer Alliance Program
We appreciate your time. If you’d like to write in a nominee to one of the categories above, please do so in the comment section below! Also, if you have any constructive ideas about what Upper Deck can do to make enjoying trading cards a more compelling experience, please submit a comment below as well. Thanks for taking the time to help us provide you with the most innovative and collectible products in the market!
Legendary™ has been a great success for both the Marvel brand and Upper Deck Entertainment as the game continues to perform well at hobby and retail levels. The success can be attributed in part to the Marvel license, a brand that resonates with a vast amount of consumers, as well as the incredible amount of rich content that comes inside each box of Legendary™. That said, here at Upper Deck we always want to offer even more to the players and with that in mind, our team is already hard at work on the first expansion for the game.
On Friday, November 30, Upper Deck announced a promotion through the Legendary™ Facebook page, where UDE would reveal a major announcement about our expansion if we hit a goal of 500 likes. The goal was reached in a matter of hours and as promised, here is the plan for rolling out not just one, but several expansions per year for Legendary™:
By no later than August 2013, Upper Deck Entertainment will release the first “Big Box” expansion, followed by a “Small Box” expansion. The Big Box release will occur at the same time each year (every August) and the Small Box release will occur every 3-4 months thereafter. This format, known as “A Legendary™ Expansion Release Timeline” ( A.L.E.R.T) will allow for fresh content to be released year round, providing players with the very best content Marvel has to offer.
Content wise, the Big Box will feature up to 350 cards including heroes, villains, masterminds and schemes. This set will release once per year and will revolve around a major event from either the past or the present Marvel lineage. The Small Box will feature up to 100 cards and will be focused on new teams and villain groups, and of course those all important schemes. These expansions will provide year round content that players will see regularly on store shelves.
While we will not be sharing specific content on the Big Box and Small Box releases at this time, I decided to use my captain’s prerogative and give you a little peek behind the curtain. That said; look for X-Force and Marvel Knights to be making an appearance in our August expansion. And there will be more surprises to come as players continue their quest to become Legendary™.
Are you shopping to find the perfect gift for the Marvel fan in your life? Well Upper Deck Entertainment has you covered with a variety of releases that are sure to put a smile on their face. Check these out!
TOP PICK: MARVEL LEGENDARY
“Legendary” is quickly being embraced as one of the best deck-building games of the year. Everything you need to play and enjoy the game is right in the box which includes over 500 game cards featuring awesome new artwork of top Marvel characters! The game was designed by Devin Low, the former Head Developer of “Magic: The Gathering®.” In “Legendary,” each player starts with a deck of basic cards and then improves that deck throughout the game by recruiting Marvel’s greatest heroes like Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk and Wolverine in an effort to take down evil Marvel super-villains like Sabertooth and Dr. Octopus. Unlike other deck building games, in “Legendary,” the game actually fights back, with an evil mastermind like Magneto working on a dark scheme to crush all the players at once. Players will have to work to defeat these masterminds while managing conflicts that occur with each other in order to win. The game can be played with as many as five players and it can also be played solo with just one player.
GAMER’S PICK: MARVEL SUPER HERO SQUAD TRADING CARD GAME
There is a very compelling trading card game which is an element of the Marvel Super Hero Squad Massive Multi-Player Online Game. Previously it only existed online, but now Upper Deck has brought the game to life with physical, collectible Marvel Super Hero Squad trading cards. Marvel fans can get started with Intro packs and then add to their decks with Booster packs! Do battle with iconic Marvel Characters like Thor, Spiderman, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America and many more!
KID’S PICK: MARVEL SLINGERS
If you are shopping for a younger Marvel fan, we’ve got the perfect gift for you with Marvel Slingers! This highly addictive game gets kids moving with a Slingers unit they “sling” at collectible medallions to retrieve them. There are a variety of games that can be played with the Marvel-themed Slingers units and medallions for hours upon hours of enjoyment!