Monopoly’s decision to replace its iron token with a cat wasn’t a statement on cultural or social values rather it was a (wildly successful) marketing campaign. The Hasbro company launched the Facebook contest “Save Your Token” this past month, in order to engage or re-engage consumers with the 79-year-old board game. 10 million people “liked” the FB page and in American Idol style voted the iron off the board. Media outlets are applauding the democracy of the voting system and claim that “once businesses got word of the token wars, they took up arms in support of their favorites.” Zappos, for instance, created a campaign for the shoe. That’s not a grassroots effort, that’s called cross-promotional marketing.
This isn’t the first time Hasbro asked the public to vote on a new playing piece. In 1998, it added a “bag of money” token but apparently players were turned off by cash – it was retired in 2007. Previous tokens retired in the 1950s included a Lantern, Purse, and Rocking Horse – they were replaced by the dog, man on horseback, and wheelbarrow. We hear Colonel Mustard is eager to, well, get on board with his candlestick. He’s a Park Place sort of swell.