It’s been around since the game was introduced in 1935 but the poor thimble has recently been voted off the Monopoly board during Hasbro’s latest campaign. I know, many of you don’t even know what a thimble is, or for that matter, have ever darned a sock. But this isn’t about the thimble; it’s about reinvigorating or reinventing an evergreen product.
This isn’t the first time that Hasbro (before them, Parker Brothers) has messed with the well-known tokens. I was part of the team in 1998 that, after many very heated meetings, developed what was then, a groundbreaking Monopoly (game) New Token campaign. Driven primarily by public relations efforts, local events and retailer tie-ins, this was a big deal, no recent and significant change had been made to the game since the retailer-mandated box size. It was a huge PR win – the equivalent of an opponent landing on your hotel-lined Boardwalk!
Today, with more marketplace competition, companies are constantly looking at ways to be fresh, new, different. In the toy space, Crayola is best known for “retiring” colors and adding new ones; American Girl, in time for this week’s Toy Fair, introduced an American Boy doll for the first time in it’s 31 year history; and Barbie is always changing.
What do all these campaigns have in common? The art of storytelling. These campaigns wouldn’t be successful without connecting with consumers on an emotional level, without any backstory or reminiscing. We all remember the smell of a box of crayons and favorite Crayola color, first doll or favorite Monopoly token.
As consumers, we have our own story to tell that connects us with a product so it’s important that companies don’t forget that emotion, that connection to their brand. In order to remain fresh, companies shouldn’t forget the original brand storylines but should wrap a different story around it. New storylines can change how people perceive a product. When we start using a brand, we integrate it into the stories of our daily lives. Once integrated, that storied brand has new value for buyers because now it’s personal.
As long as Hasbro doesn’t mess with the $15,140, the amount of money in a Monopoly game, I guess I can live without the thimble, After all, I’ll continue to have my own stories to tell.