When memories sell

What is the most famous street in America? Some may say it’s Fifth Avenue in New York, Newbury Street in Boston, or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. If you grew up when I did, though, you’d have to add Park Place to that list.

Not too long ago Hasbro approached CRN looking for a way to revive sales of its classic board games. Immediately, images of my childhood leapt to mind. I remembered playing iconic games like Monopoly, Scrabble, Life and Yahtzee regularly with my friends and my family, just as our parents had done before us and their parents before them. These games were as much a part of our everyday lives as they were a part of American culture. And they provided me with some of the best memories from my childhood.

Monopoly was my personal favorite. I always wanted the car for my token, and I liked to be the banker when I could. I distinctly remember sitting around the kitchen table playing with my parents and sisters. If we were lucky, extended family members played with us as well. I loved the really big games the most, the ones where everyone played. While it wasn’t that long ago, you have to remember it was before the high-tech world of smart phones and tablets and the Internet. There weren’t as many distractions then, and not as much competed for our time and attention. Life wasn’t as solitary or as multitasked. It was a time where basic social skills and interaction were central to children’s lives.

Given these games’ longevity, powerful brand recognition and ubiquity in our minds, Hasbro had simply planned on doing traditional radio brand spots. While it’s true that everyone knows what happens when you go “directly to jail,” most people today hold little more than nostalgia for the once-common staples of the everyday American household. You are more likely to find a computer, iPad or Wii in someone’s home, and the only place you’d encounter Monopoly is at the slots in a casino.

CRN is known as an innovator in the radio space—able to break through the ad clutter for our clients, get their messages to stand out instead of being buried in stop sets. We immediately began looking for non-traditional ways to get consumers to react to and purchase Hasbro’s games.

Inspired by that beautiful and simple time in each of our childhoods, we decided to pursue the personal connection we felt with the games and our memories. We sent the games to stations and encouraged on-air personalities to indulge in the nostalgia and connection to material culture, relate their own memories on the air and try out a game night with their own families. We then leveraged the positivity of that experience through the power of their recommendations to their listeners. These were unscripted, off the cuff, and organic—and immediately a hit. Personalities inspired their listeners to purchase the games and create family game nights of their own.  To further capitalize on the excitement and momentum, we also had stations give away the games daily to listeners. Who doesn’t like getting free stuff? After all, I always loved landing on “Free Parking.”

Then we took it up another notch and allowed a winner a chance to head home for the holidays. What better way to connect people to that feeling than by providing them with an opportunity to create those magic moments being conveyed on air—in their own lives? Throughout the day, we continuously reminded people to purchase the games and presented them as an alternative to the mind-numbing video game culture so prevalent today. It was a perfect solution to keep kids occupied on rainy days while engaging their minds and social skills.

Our greatest triumph was exceeding the client’s expectations by creating a campaign that surrounded Hasbro’s consumer from more than one angle. We generated content more engaging than what would have appeared in the traditional spots they initially figured they’d do. For the same amount of money, we gave them far more exposure and left them with a little something to reminisce about fondly. For them, the added value was just like passing go!

Jonathan Vartelas is a Director of Strategy and Development for CRN International.