This morning I caught this tweet in my Twitter stream:
@LenKendall – I’ve got Park Place for McDonald’s monopoly. If you have boardwalk I want to be your friend 🙂
This made me think about how times have changed. When McDonald’s Monopoly was originally designed, the world wasn’t connected. So the possibility of you finding the elusive Boardwalk piece to complete your set and win millions was extremely slim. Today, in the connected world, I wonder if you would have a better chance? (Think Lazlo Hollyfeld.)
Ionically, from McDonald’s perspective the probability of you winning today was the same as it was 10 years ago. McD’s releases 3 Boardwalk pieces into the world and those pieces divided by the total number of play pieces released is your probability. The underlying assumption is that the only pieces you can play are the pieces you earn through buying fries/drinks/burgers. It doesn’t work that way anymore, (and hasn’t for some time). In 2007 people were selling pieces on eBay. The contest just launch and nothing’s changed..
The best inspiration/example to explain the difference between yesterday and today is the DARPA balloon challenge this past December. DARPA wanted to know how fast a networked group of people could solve a large-scale, time critical task. To learn, they offered $40k in a challenge that involved releasing 10 8-foot balloons in secret locations across the US. It took a team from MIT less than nine hours because they created a pyramid scheme around the challenge. Before the challenge they issued the following message:
“We’re giving $2,000 per balloon to the first person to send us the correct coordinates, but that’s not all — we’re also giving $1,000 to the person who invited them. Then we’re giving $500 whoever invited the inviter, and $250 to whoever invited them, and so on…”
So imagine if a networked entity (like 4Chan) decided to unleash the same wrath on McDonald’s that they did on Time’s Time’s Person of the Year. There are already Facebook and MySpace groups with the same intention. There was a Andriod app in the UK for the last contest.
Let’s say only 5% of McDonald’s customers are capable of pulling of this sort of collusion, should McDonald’s design the game differently? (It would cost the same either way.) Should the game be built for the connected world? Individually, those consumers aren’t that significant, but collectively they could screw the game to the wall.
I’m sure McDonald’s has all sorts of rules to prevent this sort of collaborating, but maybe they shouldn’t? The whole contest is about marketing and buzz. maybe they should invite people collude. The cost to McDOnald’s would be the same, but the engagement from their consumers would be radically different. They would reframe their brand in an entirely different context, you would have stories celebrating how people were collaborating to win. The game would be about collaborating to win, not gobbling more McDonald’s. It feels like the publicity alone would reach new audiences and meet our culture where it already is.