Over the last year, we have been preparing for Panini to launch brands in NASCAR, a license they acquired from the now defunct Press Pass, who had done the brand in a relatively unsuccessful manner over a number of years. Panini even did it the right way, only guaranteeing a small handful of products instead of going full out. Considering that the license drastically under-performed for its previous owner despite having a highly regarded brand offering, not surprising that they would only dip their toes in before diving head first.
Well, the first promotional versions of the cards associated with the new NASCAR license are upon us, and in typical Panini fashion, they look fucking weird as shit. Its not that the design is weird or even that their existence is unwelcome. Both are not the issue. The issue is the way they chose to present the photos, which look like they were lifted off of those self affirming portraits that amateur artists paint for people to hang above their toilets.
Here are the cards:
Instead of highlighting the cars or even the action of the race, they chose just to focus on the drivers. See, that is where NASCAR is just as weird as the cards Panini is producing here. The drivers are brands, but I dont think this is the way that most NASCAR enthusiasts are going to identify with them. The wheels are just as important here, and a picture of Kevin Harvick standing triumphantly like he just screwed the head cheerleader on prom night, is probably not the best depiction.
Of course, that’s where Panini often fails and fails hard. They dont seem to understand what a good card picture should contain. They focus so much on posed glamour shots instead of action photos because the people behind the production of these cards dont care about the action associated with the game the athletes play. They just want pictures of them smelling a bat or some weird shit like that.
NASCAR, like the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB all has some DRAMATIC and DYNAMIC photos that can be used. Obviously, these photos cost money to license, but that money is worth it. It creates a look that is far above what is being used in many Panini products. Similarly, when the company has the chance to get action photography, they instead choose to still go for the posed garbage, as we saw at the rookie premiere.
The result is goofy looking trash that could have been so much better. I have had discussions with Panini about their choices on Twitter and offline, and I just dont get the reasoning behind the choice to go this direction. These NASCAR cards are just the beginning I feel, and that’s not even talking about the rest of the train wrecks we see all over this promo.