- Hasbro unveiled Ms. Monopoly, a reworking of its classic Monopoly board game that recognizes "women trailblazers" and how their accomplishments are often overlooked, according to a press release. The game features a new female investor character on the cover — the first-ever change from the long-standing Mr. Monopoly mascot — along with some tweaks to the game's rules.
- Notably, women playing Ms. Monopoly make more in-game money than men, an advantage that flips the idea of the gender pay gap on its head. Properties have been replaced by innovations women have held crucial roles in creating throughout history, from WiFi to shapewear, and the game's traditional house-building system has been switched to establishing headquarters for new businesses.
- To support the launch, Hasbro has invested roughly $20,580 in real-world money — the total amount of fake dollars available to accrue in Ms. Monopoly — in young female inventors and entrepreneurs, such as 16-year-old Sophia Wang, who designed a prototype device that detects sinkholes before they appear. The brand captured a video of the innovators' reactions to the news as part of the marketing behind Ms. Monopoly. The game will be available to purchase at retailers nationwide later this month and can be preordered online from Walmart now.
Hasbro has frequently introduced variants on Monopoly tied to popular intellectual properties or themes, but Ms. Monopoly arguably marks the toymaker's most purpose-led reworking of the iconic board game. The change comes as brands across categories are weighing in on timely issues to connect with socially conscious young consumers, with gender-based pay being a particularly hot button topic.
"Through the introduction of Ms. Monopoly and the money these young women have received to invest in their future projects, we want to recognize and celebrate the many contributions women have made to our society and continue to make on a daily basis," Jen Boswinkel, senior director of global brand strategy and marketing at Hasbro, said in a statement.
While wading into the gender pay debate has become a larger trend in marketing — Procter & Gamble's Secret deodorant label made a splash by calling for equal pay around the World Cup for women's soccer earlier this summer — it's a strategy that can cause backlash from consumers who don't agree that the issue is significant or don't appreciate brands getting overtly political. The YouTube video promoting Ms. Monopoly is bombarded with dislikes and has the comment section disabled at publishing time.
But Ms. Monopoly is also facing criticism in other areas particular to board game history. A report in The Washington Post points to social media outcry over how Hasbro's marketing behind Ms. Monopoly doesn't address Lizzie Magie, an ardent feminist who created and patented the Landlord's Game more than a century ago.
Per the Post, Magie's concept was essentially cribbed by a man, Charles Darrow, who sold the idea to Parker Brothers, making vast sums of money while Magie reportedly saw little. Hasbro has continued to reference Darrow as Monopoly’s inventor, even as research has come out around a more legally contentious origin for the game.
Other recent spins on Monopoly have similarly stirred controversy, including an iteration that parodies socialism and a Monopoly for Millennials variant that skewers the generally debt-laden age group and includes the tagline: "Forget real estate. You Can’t afford it anyway," according to Time.