SBJ/Aug. 18-24, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Upper Deck highlights McIlroy

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Upper Deck will roll out a new array of Rory McIlroy collectibles in the next month from his wins at the PGA Championship and British Open.

McIlroy has an exclusive arrangement with Upper Deck for autographed memorabilia and trading cards.

The company is working to aggregate pin flags, photographs and clothing items that McIlroy will sign and Upper Deck will sell on its online store at UpperDeckStore.com.

Signed items from McIlroy’s PGA and British Open wins are on the way.

“If you look at our pieces, we’re not doing the standard 8-by-10 photo,” said Jason Masherah, Upper Deck’s president. “We’re looking for items that are much more unique to Rory and his championships.”

Gabriel Garcia, brand manager for Upper Deck’s Authenticated division, takes the lead on acquiring pin flags from the event and clothing items from Nike, which is McIlroy’s apparel sponsor. Photographs often are bought from Getty Images.

Once all of the items are in hand in the next few weeks, Upper Deck will work with McIlroy’s management team, led by Sean O’Flaherty, to schedule a private signing, typically near the home of the athlete. These signings often are in a secure hotel conference room.

McIlroy is one of a small stable of athletes who have exclusive deals with Upper Deck, including Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Wayne Gretzky.

“It’s definitely a smaller part of our business compared to trading cards, but it’s growing,” Masherah said of the collectibles division.

Items signed by McIlroy, a four-time major champion, range from $500 for a pin flag from his 2011 U.S. Open win to $20,000 for the actual shirt and pants worn in the final round of his 2012 PGA Championship win.

Despite McIlroy’s torrid summer, in which he won the British Open, the PGA Championship and the WGC Bridgestone, prices for similar items won’t go up. Masherah said inflating prices based on performance is not Upper Deck’s practice.

“We do our best to set the value and protect the value,” Masherah said. “We look at this as an opportunity to expand the portfolio for Rory.”

Masherah said Upper Deck is in talks with a handful of athletes to grow the list of exclusive athlete deals.

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