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links for 2008-02-26

Hasbro's big mistake

Hasbro shouldn't be playing politics. Period.Monopoly

For the of you who are unfamiliar with the story, here's the three line summary: Hasbro is creating a World version of Monopoly.  In a 2.0 move, they opened up voting for the world's most popular cities to the public.  Then they alienated their voting community.

The public voted for strongly for Jerusalem, Israel.  They voted so strongly, that they drove Jerusalem, Israel, into the top 5 cities in this contest. 

Then politics kicked in.  Under local pressure, a Hasbro employee in London, on his own, pulled Israel from the map, leaving Jerusalem owner-less.  Rather than correct the error, Hasbro rejected their enthusiast voting community and stood by this errant employee.  The Jewish and Christian communities erupted with a fervor.  Every city in the world had a host country, except for Jerusalem.  In response, Hasbro pulled all country titles from cities, leaving all cities owner-less. 

But the damage was already done.  I have already come across scores of email streams and blog posts calling on the Jewish and Christian communities to boycott all Hasbro products.   

Hasbro took a stand: they alienated their voters, their activists, their brand enthusiasts.  If voters felt that strongly about Jerusalem, if Hasbro as a US based company has moral ground to stand by (the US recognizes Jerusalem as the unilateral capital of Israel), why would they pull Israel from the title?  Were they unaware of the tension regarding Jerusalem before they built out the product and campaign?  And given that this dismissal of Israel was done without corporate approval, why would they then stand by a single employee and desert their vocal customers?  Why would a company alienate the consumers behind a country that (at one point) ranked 4th most popular in their own online poll?  Hasbro has worked themselves into a winless situation.

In the minds of many, by pulling the names of ALL countries in response to the strife, they conceded that Jerusalem is not part of Israel.  They took a stand.  They stood by the voice of singular employee, and alienated their fans.

What a mess. 

Personal feelings aside, what a disgrace towards the social media community.  What an embarrassment for the company.  Let's hope Hasbro learns something from this. 

Never play with matches if you aren't interested in starting a fire.

Personal feelings: I grew up on Monopoly.  I still enjoy playing the game with nieces and nephews.  But this is an issue that is very close to me.  As someone who lived in Jerusalem for two years, as someone who witnessed first-hand the bravery of a country in the face of terror and the courage of individuals in the face of true trial by fire, I cannot forget what has happened.  I cannot ignore some of the hardest chapters of my lifeYes, this is just a board game.  But Jerusalem, to me, is more than just a city. 

Monopoly was a game that stood for innocence, youth, and family gatherings.  Hasbro was part of my childhood, they were part of my family.  But Monopoly can no longer be a family game in my household.  This is no longer a game that I feel comfortable inviting into my home.  What a shame.