Client: Hasbro (Pawtucket, RI)
PR Team: Agnew Carter/MS&L (Boston)
Campaign: Monopoly Game Championship
Time Frame: April 1999 to November 2000
Budget: About dollars 250,000
Go straight to jail! Do not pass Go! Do not collect dollars 200!
Since it was developed in 1935, more than 200 million copies of the
Monopoly board game have been sold worldwide - in 80 countries and 26
Monopoly-maker Hasbro is skilled at keeping up interest in the game.
A few years ago, it conducted a high-profile campaign in which the
public picked the first new token, or game piece, in 40 years (the sack
of money won out). And, since 1973 Hasbro has sponsored periodic world
championships in the game.
Hasbro's agency Agnew Carter (AC)/MS&L planned and promoted the latest
World Championship, which was held in Toronto in October and featured
contestants from 38 countries.
The agency's work started about a year-and-a-half out. The first task
was to pick a site for the event that reflected the game's monied theme
so as to contribute to the media appeal, says Phil Gloudemans, SVP of
consumer at AC/MS&L. (In 1996, the contest was held - appropriately - in
Toronto was chosen because it is the Canadian banking center and a
popular city for European visitors. Organizers invited Charlie Coffey,
EVP of government and community affairs for the Royal Bank of Canada, to
serve as the Final Round Banker. Because the Monopoly game was developed
in the 1930s, they selected the Royal York Hotel, which was built in the
1930s and is still decorated in that decade's style.
The agency used the year hiatus between the national championships and
the world tournament to develop press coverage. 'With each level (state,
national and global) you get publicity,' says Gloudemans. 'When you
total up all the clips, it's a pretty amazing amount.'
The agency gave Matt Gissel, a college student from Vermont who won the
US championship in Las Vegas in October 1999, media training to prepare
him for interviews with publications. He was interviewed by The
Baltimore Sun, Money magazine and Toy Shop (for collectors). Most
importantly, he appeared on the TV show To Tell the Truth.
The PR practitioners had a simple message to convey in all their press
dealings. 'The message is that this game, which is 65 years old, is
still very popular and still a great game to play,' says Gloudemans.
'The second big message is that it's a worldwide game.'
During the world tournament, the PR agency put together a b-roll package
and worked to coordinate PR people coming from other countries.
The local press had a good angle in that the tournament was played on a
new board that had well-known Canadian properties such as Granville
Street, St. Albert Trail and Portage and Main. The tokens included a
moose, sled and hockey player. 'The Canadians took great pride in this,'
For the final round, held October 23, the organizers made a big splash
when the five finalists, dressed in tuxedos and carrying their native
flags, were escorted into the grand ballroom by Canadian Mounties and
bagpipers. The procession was led by someone dressed as Mr.
The winner, Yutaka Okada, an economist from Japan, won with dollars
11,589 in assets. Okada's prize was a check for dollars 15,140 - the
total amount of moola in a Monopoly game.
Press coverage for the world championship included over 120 print media
impressions and placements on many top national television shows. The
broadcast coverage totaled 263 television and 20 radio placements such
as CBC, CNN, Fox, and ABC shows Good Morning America and World News
USA Today approached the event as if it were the World Series, with
coverage including a weekend item beforehand and an article on the day
of the finals.
The next national Monopoly championships will take place in 2003. A site
has not yet been selected.