I can't remember the last time I saw a commercial promoting sports cards. It was probably when I was a teenager eating Cap'n Crunch and watching the Saturday morning block of X-Men cartoons and the original Saved by the Bell episodes. Ah, the early 90s. Cards were printed by the millions and Upper Deck, Topps, Donruss and Fleer all had budgets to make 30-second TV spots.
Although this era saw the greatest number of trading card commercials, it's by no means the entire history. Here's a list of more than 20 ads that all share a common theme: sports cards. From set-specific spots to creepy hobby shop ads to more modern commercials about kids "getting lucky," the sports card commercial landscape is filled with many memorable moments.
Grab some Junior Mints and a beverage and enjoy!
Matthew Fox Goes Extreme for Stadium Club
"Extreme" was the theme for 1993-94 Stadium Club Basketball. Whatever. I'm more intrigued by the cool-igan at the start of the commercial. Yup, that's Lost's Matthew Fox shortly before getting his big break as the big brother on Party of Five.
The First Video Card?
Much hubbub has been made this year about this thing called video cards. While others may be reaching for first, perhaps Mickey Mantle and the folks at Post deserve some of the credit as shown by this classic from the 1960s.
Although not a direct ad for cardboard, Tony Gwynn and Bip Roberts debate card values and the importance of condition in this MLB spot.
More Cereal Cards
Traditional card packs generally reach the collectors. Cereal premiums, however, reach the masses. Here's a Saturday morning treat that reminds us when the morning meal offered the most tempting of bribes. The look at a video game cereal is also awesome.
This is what cards
are were about.
Can Someone Explain This to Me?
Ummmmm, yeah. Next!
Cards by Mail
Some may debate the merits of the over-sized Sportcaster cards but there's no denying the nostalgic awesomeness of this commercial. Talk about a buzzkill. I don't think I'd want to buy these based on this boring sales pitch. Today, the cards may be a fun (and cheap) oddball item, though.
This Guy's Heavily Buying
Every small-town station has them: small business owners who air micro-budget commercials in the wee hours of the night. Often, their badness is exactly what makes them memorable. This Card King and the retired Burger King mascot would make the scariest tag team of all-time.
Up until recently, hockey cards at McDonald's were an annual tradition in Canada. They were the inspiration for this pair of fun ads that were nationally televised.
If Ladies Bowling Cards Can Have a Commercial, Why Can't Baseball Cards?
The following commercial was made to promote a set of ladies bowling cards. If that's not a niche market, I don't know what is. I know times were different back in 1992 but did this set really sell more than the commercial-less 2011 Topps Baseball?
If Modern Lacrosse Cards Can Have a Commercial, Why Can't Baseball Cards?
If ladies bowling card is a niche market, so are lacrosse cards. Upper Deck ventured into the market a couple of years ago. I guess this ad was meant to get the word out. After seeing this commercial, I'm not surprised that a follow-up set hasn't been made. It intends to capture the action of the sport but I'm not feeling it.
The Evolution of Technology
Cardboard printing technologies have changed over the last couple of decades. Here's SkyBox and Fleer proclaiming the changes of the 1990s.
What Do You Collect?
That was the question Upper Deck asked in this spot that features several of their spokesmen, including Reggie Jackson, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana and Gordie Howe.
The Spokesman Spot
Using a celebrity to sell your product is nothing new. Here's a few ads that relied on little more than a big-time athlete to send us to our hobby shops.
Getting Lucky is in the Cards
This is one of the last commercial campaigns to promote cards. In them Upper Deck told kids they could get lucky opening cards. I thought the stereotype was the opposite.
Hold the Mayo
As disturbing as the Japanese snack commercial was, the mayo gag within this eTopps spot is even more frightening.
Ending with the Starting
The cards that came with many of the old Starting Lineup figures are an overlooked part of the hobby. Even more overlooked is the free shirt offered in this late-80s spot. Oh, how I miss you big heads.
For these and more sports card commercials, check out the playlist on the Cardboard Connection YouTube page.