This Is Not Your Father's Panini Sticker Collection
Panini is making a comeback this summer (although they never really left us) with their series of Euro 2008 stickers and its de rigueur sticker album. But they’re also trying something brand new. The Italian sticker company has entered the world of, gasp, digital stickers.Surely Panini doesn’t get the point, you wonder? The whole pleasure of Panini stickers was the cathartic experience of peeling the sticker and carefully pasting it inside the sticker album, being mindful to place it exactly in the square provided and not create any bubbles or cracks beneath the hallowed space.Then there was the whole appeal of the social aspect (before social was even social Facebook users). The buzz of trading your sticker collection with your pals and, if you were fortunate, quietly showing off your impressive stack of stickers to the gobsmacked fellow pupils.By launching the Euro 2008 sticker collection in both the traditional way and digitally, you would think that the electronic version has no chance of competing with the traditional stickers, but you may be surprised with the results.The web site for Panini’s UEFA Euro 2008 Album is beautifully designed. First, the site designers tease you with a sample of Panini stickers that seem to come alive on the screen when you hover your mouse over them. Second, the accompanying video on the page is wonderfully created with soothing music, neat animation and constructive information on how the virtual sticker album works.After registering, the site allows you to paste your starter pack of stickers into your virtual sticker album. The web site also has MSN Messenger integrated into it so you can chat with your network and encourage them to join the sticker collecting. Panini’s Euro 2008 Album also allows you to trade stickers with your friends. For example, if you have doubles (or “swaps”), you can exchange those with your network and gain new stickers in return.Despite being a work of art, the site is not perfect. For example, the night when I tried to critique the site, I was unable to log in (the page froze after repeated attempts to try to sign me in via my Windows Live ID). The issue could be a Microsoft-related one, but regardless the experience reflects poorly on Panini and needs to be fixed.The true test for whether this site will be successful or not are the soccer fans. If they embrace it and grow the community virally, then Panini may have a new hit on its hands. The other important factor to consider is whether the site will have staying power. It’s easy to pick up a sticker album and get the tangible rewards from leafing through the pages, but will Panini’s Euro 2008 sticker album have the same lasting appeal? We’ll have to wait and see.