There has been a frenzy of activity in my MBA class this morning (my LAST MBA CLASS WEEKEND ever, FYI! All that remains is final exams + a week in Phoenix. Praise be.). You might assume the activity is focused on final exam prep, but you’d be wrong. Instead, there has been a burst of World Cup sticker trading.
Walter & Karina review their current sticker inventories to see if they can broker a deal.
What does that mean, you might ask if you are on the fringe of the futbol (a.k.a. soccer for you Americans not living in Mexico) loop as I am. Well apparently each World Cup year, a company called Panini distributes envelopes (each costing 5.50 pesos) with 5 stickers each. There are normal stickers (the player stickers), dual-part stickers (which depict the stadiums in two halves) and the *special* stickers that have holograms of the World Cup logo or trophy on them. FYI, the hologram stickers are the cool ones & hence are more valuable (i.e. you can trade them for more than one player sticker).
A summary of all the tools you need for a successful World Cup sticker orgy: cold hard cash, your list of missing sticker numbers, a pencil to check them off, the cool-ass hologram stickers, the hottie player photos, and the photos of a player caught eating something.
We spotted an album in action-- being filled with stickers as we speak!
The goal is that in the months leading up to the World Cup, you buy & trade these stickers, all the while adding them to your Official Licensed Sticker Album. I was initially confused because unlike baseball cards in the US, there are no stats/info on these stickers– just a shiny photo of the player’s face. BUT it all works out in the end, since the album has the players’ info already in the book, just waiting for his picture to be slapped nearby. Then during the World Cup, you take out your album filled with all your stickers and flip vigorously from page to page when something happens to the relevant player on TV.
My friend Alonso informed me that the trading is perhaps a bit more intense among youngsters who can’t afford to buy envelopes of stickers en masse, the way our MBA classmates are able to with full-time jobs. He says it is more common in the 20-to-30-year-old crowd to buy full BOXES of stickers, which I might argue is cheating.
As you can imagine, few 8-year-olds will have already acquired this many stickers this early in the sticker-collecting season (we're about a month into it), much less be equipped with a PDA to track inventory.
You might think this would be an activity that skews toward the male population, but you’d be wrong. In fact, I was most impressed today by friend Karina, who returned from our lunch break today with an UPDATED MISSING INVENTORY LIST that she created at home. She is NOT screwing around, people.
Karina keeps her yet-to-be-acquired World Cup sticker list with her at all times, making updates whenever she has access to a printer. (FYI, handwritten sticker inventory lists are for losers. I saw a number of Excel spreadsheets in use today.)
I don’t know if the flurry of stickers & cash changing hands today has convinced me to rush out and start collecting pics of hottie football players, but it has provided a good supplemental lesson in economics.
Finally, on a slightly unrelated note, while browsing the Panini website, I came across the mascot from the World Cup in 1986, the year Mexico was the host. In case anyone was unclear about popular Mexican stereotypes, Mexico did a great job reinforcing them with this horrific mascot named Pique:
In case it is confusing for you, you are looking at a POT-BELLIED jalapeno wearing a SOMBRERO and a MUSTACHE. Apparently the shoes are called "tacos", I am told. All we are missing is a half-empty tequila bottle and a sarape.
Special thanks go out to Alonso, Karina, and Liliana for their support in explaining & photographing this new concept for me. One cultural lesson at a time, folks.