Client: Housing Minnesota, Minneapolis Consortium of Community
PR Team: Sisco Public Relations (Minneapolis)
Campaign: Monopoly: A Play for Affordable Housing
Time Frame: May 17 - September 3, 2001
With over 80,000 renters competing for 39,000 units of affordable
housing in the Twin Cities area alone, Minnesota faces one of the US'
most difficult housing crises. The Minneapolis Consortium of Community
Developers and Housing Minnesota wanted to jump-start their efforts by
raising money and awareness for affordable-housing issues. "So many
people feel the effects of the issue because it continues to move up the
income scale," says Shawna Tobechukwu, communications director at the
Family Housing Fund in Minneapolis.
So how do you create awareness for the issue of affordable housing and
raise money for the cause? Play a game of Monopoly, of course, and link
the real-estate theme of the game to affordable-housing issues.
Sisco Public Relations turned to special-events company Ridgeway
International to create - exactly to scale - the largest Monopoly board
in history for use at the Minnesota State Fair.
"People were fascinated with the link between a Monopoly board and
affordable housing," says president Ginger Sisco, who adds that the
timing was ideal because affordable housing was once again a hot topic
in the area due to upcoming local elections. Indeed, all Minneapolis
mayoral hopefuls showed up to play.
From August 23 to Labor Day, teams of six were allowed to play 90-minute
games of super-sized Monopoly. Half the teams prepaid amounts of $1,000 and up, and the other teams were picked at random from the crowd.
In most cases, teams were provided with a VIP for their sixth member.
Minnesota TV and radio personalities, journalists, and prominent housing
reps were among the VIPs selected. The grand prize in the competition
was (appropriately) a trip to Atlantic City. Second and third prizes
were trips to NYC and Washington, DC, respectively.
Covering the enormous board was a 75x40-foot tent, around which
contestants and onlookers could all find information about Minnesota's
housing issues, as well as about the sponsors who purchased property
squares on the board.
Radisson Hotels, Hasbro, the MN State Fair, Sprint, and others were
While addressing a serious issue, everyone involved managed to have
"The bleachers around the board were full," says Paul Ridgeway,
president of Ridgeway International, indicating the importance of the
affordable-housing issue to state residents. "It was not about
fundraising, but raising awareness," adds Tobechukwu, though she gladly
admits that financial predictions were exceeded by over 5%.
Tobechukwu has Sisco to thank in part, as the agency claims that this
event received more media coverage than any other Sisco initiative:
Minneapolis TV and radio coverage totaled 90 minutes of airtime.
At the event, over 10,000 signatures were gathered on a petition asking
for more funding for affordable housing, which will be sent to Gov.
Jesse Ventura. Also, a seven-minute video of the event that was created
by the Family Housing Fund will be used to continue to raise awareness
in the community, as well as to bring the giant Monopoly game back for
next year's State Fair.