Thursday, 14 June 2012

Panini Euro 2012: How was it for you?

Two months on from our previous post, it’s now possible to assess the impact and effect of Panini’s Euro 2012 sticker collection. What have we learned from this self-adhesive sensation? Has it been a stick-on success or a double dose of despair?

Speaking from personal experience, there’s absolutely no doubt that Panini are enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment. For anyone thinking the days of sticker collecting ended when we outgrew our school uniforms, be in no doubt – Panini reigns once again, and age is no longer an issue.

As a 40-year-old blogger, I’ve been heartened beyond belief at the sight of so many peers devoting themselves to the pastime of tearing open packets and filling albums. A wide range of ages are covered, and though they’re located across all four corners of London and beyond, every man jack of them has taken the opportunity to exchange doubles and discuss their collections whenever possible.

The use of Twitter has undoubtedly been a useful tool in helping people to complete their Euro 2012 collections. And why not – back in our childhood days, we merely had to stroll into the school playground with a wad of swaps held together tightly by an elastic band in order to meet up with other like-minded souls. Decades on, the ability to tap into such a readily available group of fellow swapees is not so easy. Why not, therefore, use Twitter as a way to reach out to today’s Panini apostles?

Aside from the pleasure of swapping stickers with someone you barely know, the subsequent postal exchange of doubles is an ironic conclusion to any Twitter-based transaction. Social media tools can be said to have made communication easy as pie these days, yet at the end of it all we still have to rely upon the trusty old Royal Mail to receive the doubles we’ve requested. And let it be noted: there’s still something of a minor thrill to be had from hearing the plop of an envelope fall through the letterbox when you know there are stickers inside.

Being a London-based blogger, I’ve been lucky enough to meet many other people of the same persuasion to initiate an old-fashioned face-to-face swapping session. When I met Chris Nee from The Stiles Council several weeks ago, we found ourselves sitting in a darkened corner of the Sports Bar & Grill, Farringdon, staring intently at our open Panini albums on the table. It felt odd – embarrassing even at first: two men old enough to know better thumbing through each other’s packs of swaps, half-drained pints of beer readily within reach to one side. After a while though, that awkward feeling had disappeared. We were innocently enjoying that Proustian rush, harming no-one and living for the moment. Perhaps we were kids again, just for a short while…

A couple of weeks later, I met up with a whole crowd of bloggers in The Mulberry Bush on the South Bank. When I arrived, an entire corner of the pub had been taken over by people I’d known and respected for a long time like the written output they produce. Ryan Keaney, Jamie Cutteridge and many more were there, all heavily engrossed in the important business of assessing the swaps of others and filling their own albums. It was an extraordinary sight, but one which gladdened the heart. Panini stickers clearly meant a lot to a great many people, all of whom were happily using their hobby to hang on to a small part of their childhood.

Personally speaking, I was in the fortunate position of being able to display my list of ‘needs’ and ‘swaps’ here on the Football Attic blog site. This meant that I, like my co-blogger Rich, received a steady stream of emails from people wishing to exchange their doubles, and very useful they were too. It undoubtedly saved us both a lot of money in helping us reach that momentous point where we could apply for those last remaining stickers from Panini.

Interestingly, many friends of ours used similar tools to do the same. Some, like Damon Threadgold also posted lists on their blogs while others such as Terry Duffelen, Andrew Gibney and Ian Rands shared out Google Spreadsheets to the same effect. Either way, the internet was there to help us all – a technological playground we could all congregate in.

And what about the collection itself? Was it satisfying to undertake or disappointing? Well let’s get my personal conspiracy theories out of the way first. For my money, I accumulated an enormous amount of swaps early on – far more than with equivalent collections in years gone by. It was also a long time before I saw any England stickers to the point where one Twitter correspondent suggested they’d been mainly distributed in the north of the country. Probably not factually correct, but definitely the sort of thing that makes you wonder if it’s true or not.

I also saw precious few silver foils during my collecting campaign. When I visited the Panini website last week to order my remaining 33 stickers, the Germany badge, Ireland badge, Sweden badge and the bottom half of the tournament logo were all there among them, and that’s just four I can mention off the top of my head. There were plenty more where that came from.

Then there were the multipacks which, I’m convinced, provided a better selection of stickers than those sold from boxes. In the fullness of time, I came to see more ‘special’ stickers (i.e. badges, team pictures, slogans and so on) from the multipacks than I did from boxed packets. Coincidence? Who can tell…

As for the four-part team pictures, they were an ambitious feature on the part of Panini, but in execution not a huge success. Often was the time I found myself trying to marry up the matching details on adjoining stickers but I had the devil’s own job trying to form a decent looking whole. Somehow the printing and cutting of said stickers had gone awry in the production process and one can only hope they’ll sort that out before the 2014 World Cup collection comes out.

No matter, though. When I stuck the last of my remaining stickers in last night, it felt as though a genuinely fulfilling project had come to an end. The album was full and now it was time to reflect on a job well done. Yes, it had cost me a fair bit of money, but sometimes you have to spend a little to gain something exceptional. Panini’s Euro 2012 wasn’t just about collecting stickers – it was about sharing the experience with friends and feeling ever so slightly younger again, and that you cannot put a price on.


  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed collecting this lot, though I have to say, in the early days, before I got swapping, I wasn't feeling the joy and I think that was down to it being a very solitary (and rather mocked by loved ones ;-) ) pursuit.

    Once I started swapping however, the childish joy returned and though I never got to swap with anyone in person, it was ridiculously thrilling to get home from work one day to find that all 3 of the letters that had arrived for me were Panini stickers from fellow bloggers :)

    In total, I think I spent somewhere around £80! That was mainly down to Asda and its tempting 2 for £5 multipack offer. Interestingly, I found the opposite to Chris, in that the packs I got in multipacks contained more swaps and far fewer foil stickers than the individual packs I bought.

    All in all, great fun and a huge thanks to Chris for getting me hooked :)

  2. Hi there, there are lots of Panini Euro 2012 Swappers and swaps on if you are looking

  3. I hope that for the 2014 World Cup album the team pictures will only be one sticker as it is nothing more annoying than desperately trying to put 2 or 4 stickers together properly. Having just half a team picture is also annoying.

  4. Rich - I think you're right in that to really feel a sense of community, you need to invest heavily in Twitter in order to find people to swap with (unless you're lucky enough to live in a big city like me!)

    Anonymous - I share your pain! I was quite excited by the four-part team pics at first, but then the practicality of it all kicked in...