History of Panini
When you think of your favorite cards or stickers, what comes to mind? For millions of soccer fans, the brand Panini does! Panini has built a community for collectors who thrive off of the thrill and nostalgia that their stickers and cards bring. Many collectors could go into deep detail about their collection of stickers or cards, but how well do you know the brand that makes them? If your answer to that is “not very well”, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to take a look into the creators who bring happiness to millions – Panini!
It all began in 1960 with two brothers, Guiseppe and Benito Panini, who were running their own newspaper office in Modena, Italy. While running their business, they came across a collection of figurines (stickers attached with glue) left by another company that was unable to sell them. Rather than let them go to waste, they bought them and sold them themselves in packets of 2. This risk paid off when the brothers being able to sell 3 million packets. In 1961, the brothers wanted to continue their success with the figurines and founded Panini that same year. They began to manufacture their own figurines by printing faces of their favorite players from every country and ended up selling 15 million packets within their first year of business. Since they could only go up from there, brothers Franco and Umberto Panini hopped on board.
Panini in the 60’s was well-known for their soccer collections, which were popular with both children and adults. The stickers and albums they were creating were a major hit in Italy, and other European countries began to adopt the love for their stickers. The UK instantly caught onto the hype and even created their own sticker language – “got, got, need”, “swapsies”, and “shinies”. With Panini’s first World Cup Album, Mexico 1970, came a breakthrough in interest. By the 80’s an incredible nine out of every 10 UK schoolchildren were collecting Panini stickers some way, somehow!
Every World Cup since 1970 has meant the highly anticipated release of the Panini Sticker Collection. Even today, people still get excited over collecting their favorite stars and living through the nostalgia. What changed the game in 1977 was the release of the Euro Football album. This classy album included information about the world of football, but most importantly had self-adhesive stickers. Before the self-adhesive stickers, collectors had what were essentially cards that they would have to glue into their album. By the 1980’s, it wasn’t just the UK who got to enjoy the collectibles – people around the world were interested! The Mexico ‘86 album sparked conversation across the globe, which in turn sparked the idea of production expansion. Today, the company has 13 Panini Group companies and seven subsidiaries – Panini Comics, Panini America, and Panini Digital being the main three.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the knight holding his trusty lance in one of their iconic logos stems from Guiseppe Panini’s love for completing riddles and crosswords under the pseudonym “The Knight”?
In 1988, the Panini brothers sold the company to British star, Robert Maxwell, but was later taken over by publishers, the DeAgostini Group, after Maxwell’s passing. Soon after in 1994, Marvel Entertainment Group Inc. bought Panini before it was placed back in the hands of an Italian group in the late 90’s.
From there, Panini made their first big shift into moving beyond the production of soccer-related collections and expanded into other sports. In 2009, Panini got licensing rights to NBA trading cards and purchased the Donruss company to sign a spokesman deal with Kobe Byant. Only a year later, they obtained a multi-year card license from the NHL making that the third major sport license they were granted. With multiple groups producing football, basketball, and hockey stickers, there were millions of packets being produced a day! Panini has since expanded and owns licensing rights to Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, Disney, FIFA, WWE, and more.
Today, the Panini Group is the international brand leader within the world of stickers and trading cards. They sell over 7,000 publications a year and bring child-like glee along with their mind-blowing profit margins. We should thank the Panini brothers for turning their small newspaper business into the worldwide phenomenon that it is today. The business has documented the greatest players of every era, from Pele and Maradona, to Messi, Haaland and more. They’re here to represent world-class talent, and will hopefully continue to do so for years to come.
If you’re interested in learning more about the World Cup sticker albums, take a look at our other blog where we focus on their history specifically! There’s a rich history behind them and it’s interesting to see how the graphics have evolved over time. Or, if there’s a Panini collection that you’ve wanted to get your hands on, head to SoccerCards.ca. You are guaranteed to find a collection you’ll love!
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