Hold your horse!

HorseOne of the best-loved games Hasbro’s Monopoly axed a playing piece and I’m just finding out about this now?  Even worse, I found out about it on Facebook – through a Zappos ad?!  This game and I spent much of my childhood together, we dreamt of having a fantastic career in marketing that would afford me to really buy houses on Marvin Gardens.


Monopoly is a classic game that has been around since 1935. According to its website, by 1940 it was America’s #1 game.  In 1960, it dictated urban planning – when the real Baltic and Mediterranean Avenue were going to change their names, public outcry prevented it.  Over “275 million games have been sold worldwide and it’s available in 111 countries and in 43 languages (”  It has been the subject of many a long night in families around the world and has turned family members against one another.  So how does a game that already yields world-wide championship tournaments based on this good, wholesome fun up its game? It gets in bed with some popular partners!


Between the 80’s and the turn of the millennium, Monopoly formed some strategic partnerships.  Limited edition Monopoly games with licensed characters on them started popping up everywhere to help sell movies, best-loved cartoon characters and cities, and a separate version for their football teams.  Not only was it a cool way to create more depth for the brands but it expanded all of their fanbases.


About this time too, banking on the addictiveness of McDonald’s food and the thrill people get by collecting properties, McDonald’s launched the Monopoly game where the more you ate, the more chances you have to win.  This game has kept up with the times truly integrating its marketing potential with its most recent version of this game driving people online!  So not only did people get the playing pieces in the stores, but they had a 2nd opportunity to go online and enter ticket serial numbers there.  This kept McDonalds in the forefront of consumer’s minds, long after the salty grease got licked from their fingers (Gracia, 2012).  Then the online site connected to Facebook which also posted when someone played it so their friends could see.


So this reminds me… how I found out that Monopoly was melting down a playing piece, never to play again.  On Monopoly’s Facebook pages were ads by Zappos stirring up customers to “Keep the shoe!” and from  Morris the Cat (9-Lives catfood fame) campaigning for the cat (one of 5 new pieces you could vote from to replace the piece that would leave) (Stampler, 2013).  This marketing campaign actually employs a lot of what we recently learned in “Made to Stick” regarding the marketing message.  It was Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and told Stories – all in their succinct campaigns for their favorite playing pieces (Heath & Heath, 2007, 2008).


Is this the first time that Monopoly got rid of a piece?  Of course not, I still remember finding my mother’s Monopoly set from when she grew up that has a wheelbarrow I’d never seen before.  Is this the first successfully integrated marketing plan with Monopoly?  No. They’ve had some success with partnering with the CA Lottery Scratchers as well (Anonymous, 2012).  What makes you dream of Monopoly money more than playing a Scratcher?  For a split second, just like in Monopoly, you dream that becoming a millionaire living on Boardwalk will be just that easy.  Alas, Monopoly’s campaign being featured on the US Postal Service stamps did a lot for sharing how Monopoly is one of America’s greatest pastimes, but not even free parking was enough to help USPS’ financial woes.


In this new era, businesses – not even Monopoly – don’t want to leave it to Chance and will make sure you’re invested in their big news. Nothing is done under the board.

Who’s up for a game? I’ll let you be the banker!

Sarah Harris
CMGT 541 A


Anonymous. (March 26, 2013). ABOUT Monopoly. Retrieved from http://www.

Anonymous. (September, 2012). Lottery Launches MONOPOLYTM-Themed Scratchers®
Games. Retrieved from

Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2007, 2008). Made to Stick. New York: Random House.

Stampler, L. (January 9, 2013). Monopoly’s Killing a Token and Hasbro Wants You to
Choose Which Ones Survive. Retrieved from http://www.

All images (C) Hasbro, Disney/Pixar, CA Lottery, McDonalds

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  1. vyoung says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I loved the game Monopoly as a child! You integrated the class readings and the marketing aspect of the Hasbro game in a very interesting way. One version of Monopoly that you failed to mention in your post are the customized versions of the Monopoly games that you can now purchase for specific organizations or cities (i.e.: USCopoly or Pasadenaopoly). Thanks again for the very entertaining post.
    Great Job!


    • Sarah Harris says:

      Hi Vicki!
      I have USCopoly too – but I don’t know if that was licensed officially from Hasbro – at least my version wasn’t. They have an -opoly version for everything! Maybe that can be a challenge later – Design your own Monopoly game for your brand!
      Have you seen the solid gold Monopoly?!
      Thanks for the comments Vicki!

  2. Michael Saunders says:


    Excellent post! I appreciated how you traced the marketing history of Monopoly. Through its various strategic alliances, Hasbro has truly done a great job keeping the game up to date and the brand relevant.


  3. kristen.mercure says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I liked the iron. I voted for the iron. I’ll miss the iron. Stupid cat and its kitty ways.

    This was a brilliant promotion for Monopoly, especially when it brought in other brands to rally behind a new piece! I wasn’t sure if it was a formal agreement or brands just jumping on the bandwagon to get a little extra buzz, but either way: brilliant cross-promotion. Monopoly is a classic, agnostic institution that any brand could feel comfortable getting behind. With 10M new fans, I wonder what they’ll do next.


    • Sarah Harris says:

      Ha ha Kristen!
      I am a kitty owner and love/hater and I, too, just don’t imagine a kitty being satisfied with running around a board!
      Now I’m thinking of all the other brands that could have jumped on the bandwagon as well.
      Thanks for the comments!

  4. lweekley says:


    I think the folks over at Hasbro (which now includes Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley) have done an amazing job keeping the board game business alive and well. Think about it: board games are the kind of product you only buy once. Unless you lose or damage your game set, one box of Monopoly is all you ever need. Through their licensing deals, special editions, and creative campaigns like the recent one you describe, Hasbro ensures classic board games never fade from the American consciousness.

    P.S. I didn’t know they ever took the wheelbarrow away! I always play as wheelbarrow. And yes, I used “play” in the present tense!

    • Sarah Harris says:

      Thank you lweekley! How could I forget to mention Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley?! All this gaming talk makes me want to play board games this longer weekend!
      You’re so right though. We had a game of Monopoly that my mom grew up with and received the 2nd in like the 80’s and 3rd ones in the 2000s as gifts and I think just found ways to spread them out – one in each kid’s room or we’d double up the money and gamble more!
      Hope you find a fun game to wheelbarrow into this weekend!

  5. kull says:


    I love your post! It tied in our readings beautifully and was entertaining as well. I am a big fan of the shoe and I hope it never goes away. Hasbro has certainly done a good job keeping a board game relevant in this age of digital games. My twin 15-year old boys love playing Monopoly. Now, if they could just figure out a way to make the game go by a bit faster. 🙂


    • Sarah Harris says:

      Amy, my family has definitely done lightning-speed Monopoly where you have to say if you’ll Buy a property or houses, or if someone lands on your property you have to ask for the rent before the next person grabs and rolls the dice! It gets crazy and hectic sometimes but it goes faster! Although, I don’t recall that we had a higher finishing rate. I suppose we just felt like we got farther.

      Do your boys play any of the digital games? I don’t, it’s not the same as playing real people face-to-face in this case.
      Thanks for dropping by!