Paying tribute to restaurant marketing's oldest timer

People of a certain vintage tend to harbor special appreciation for star performers of an advanced age. I, of course, wouldn’t know about that, but I bet the coots in your business are all but jumping out of their spats after seeing the Methuselah of restaurant marketing make another comeback. Yes, McDonald’s Monopoly sweepstakes has been re-introduced this week for its 26st annual appearance.

In promo years, that’s the equivalent of George Burns’ lifetime—added onto Jack LaLanne’s (youngsters: Ask your elders who those whippersnappers were.)

But it’s not sheer longevity, and undisputed effectiveness, that makes the Monopoly sweepstakes worthy of its own wing in the Hall of Fame. It survived a scandal some 13 years ago that makes Chicago politicians seem like altar boys. The head of security for the game’s third-party administrator was caught diverting big-dollar pieces to acquaintances.  Yet Monopoly shook off the stigma and quickly re-emerged as a consumer favorite.

And what a favorite. Competitors routinely curse the promo, and even McDonald’s franchisees cease their griping to praise the franchisor’s program. It drives traffic and, equally important today, fosters the sort of internet and social media buzz that translates into additional business.

Consider the scale of the game. According to the website BusinessInsider, there were 602.5 billion game pieces in play. Keep in mind that there are roughly 700 billion consumers (i.e., people) on the whole earth.

Indeed, you have to wonder: What’s better known today, the Monopoly sweepstakes, or the board game that provided the theme?

It’s a tribute to McDonald’s, and a reflection of its awesome marketing might, that the sweepstakes is still going strong. For those of us who are looking more and more like the little banker guy on the game pieces, it’s especially awe-inspiring.


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