What Monopoly Can Teach Marketers About Customer Loyalty and Advocacy

At the ClickZ Live Conference in San Francisco, speakers from leading brands and agencies gathered to share best practices in all areas of digital marketing. Aside from the main themes revolving around mobile and data that are top of mind for every marketer at the moment, one less obvious theme kept coming up: customer loyalty and advocacy.

Customer advocacy is crucial to any brand’s success, however, the value of converting brand loyalty into long-term customer advocacy is a every marketer’s dream.

Kathryn Cianfrocca, Director of Global Digital Marketing at Hasbro, shared how the company took Monopoly, an 80-year-old game, and brought it back to life by re-igniting brand passion with a little help of storytelling and their loyal customers.

Monopoly, created in 1935 on a kitchen table, has sold more than 275 million games in 111 countries and in 43 languages. Hasbro faced the challenge of crafting a story that captured the hearts and minds of its followers. Thus the campaign to save your favorite token came to life.

In 2013 the Save Your Token campaign revitalized the Monopoly brand. This two-part campaign was all about getting their fans to talk about their love for Monopoly tokens, which is the official name for the game pieces that travel around the board. Hasbro wanted to replace a token, and they wanted game players to not only vote on which token to replace, but also what new token would take its place. This was a great way to combine nostalgia for a classic game with the icons of today’s internet-driven, pop culture.

It became a cultural moment as other brands started showing their token love. Big consumer brands like Zappos and Nine West wanted the shoe token to stay. Duracell rallied for a new battery-powered robot token to be the new addition to the “Token Power Team.” And the whole cat-crazy internet wanted a new cat token to join the game. (#catsofmonopoly). This intermingling of fans and brands drove more interest and excitement for the campaign across social media channels and across the world.

It became a global conversation, not only making local and national news, but also inspiring a Saturday Night Live skit to Save the Monopoly Token. That’s when you know you’ve done something right.

The results of the campaign? Votes came in from more than 185 countries. That’s more countries than Monopoly is even sold in. This global campaign received over one billion impressions from social and traditional media and the game experienced a 30% global sales uplift in 2013, the year of the campaign. And it made Hasbro believe in the power of digital and social media.

By putting their fans first, they learned that people still love to talk about something from their childhood that united them. An 80-year-old brand exploded into a global conversation. Suddenly, they had gained and captured insight and unleashed the power of storytelling to invigorate a tired brand and drive brand loyalty.

Kathryn summarized the Hasbro big takeaways:

1. Be real with your marketing and customer interactions. Stay away from fads, trends, buzzwords and gimmicks and do what you think is right for your brand and your customers.

2. Don’t be afraid to try. You won’t regret your failure. You will regret that you didn’t try.

If you want to be able to afford Boardwalk and Park Place, tap into what your audience cares about and what they are talking about. On social, there are always people talking. How do you ignite them around a topic, a cause, a campaign that benefits you and your brand? Above all, focus on giving your customers the power to lead. They will feel proud that they wrote the beginning chapter in the story, particularly when it has a happy ending. When you do that, you can start your cat token in the next round of play and collect $200.

Plus be sure to download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Social Marketing, a guide which speaks directly to the fact that in 2014 92% of marketers state that social media is important for their business.

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