Reach for the Stars: Tops Monopoly in Space

Account Supervisor

When your client’s annual campaign aligns perfectly with a major celestial event, what do you do? You aim for the stars, obviously.

2024 marks our 15th year partnering with Tops to bring their Monopoly promotion to life. We always strive to inject fresh excitement into the theme to encourage shopper participation. Over the years, we’ve featured Mr. Monopoly in all kinds of scenarios. But in honor of this 15-year milestone, we wanted to take our thinking beyond where we’ve ever gone before.

So, with a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse passing directly over Tops’ corporate headquarters and many store locations, it was only natural that “Eclipse” became the focal point of our brainstorming sessions. But because the eclipse was just a one-day occurrence within a months-long promotion, we knew we needed to aim higher—literally.

We went as big as we possibly could … as big as we EVER have. We launched Tops Monopoly all the way into space.

On a brisk 28° day in Canandaigua, NY, our team orchestrated a spectacle that would make NASA proud. We sent Tops Monopoly tickets soaring skyward on a weather balloon that climbed over 104,000 feet above the Earth’s surface.

Led by Chief Ballooner, John, and joined by spirited Miracle Champion children from Golisano Children’s Hospital and Oishei Children’s Hospital, the launch wasn’t just about marketing—it was about igniting the imaginations of future cosmic explorers while championing STEM education.

Now, let’s talk logistics. What does it take to get a campaign like this off the ground?

Launching tickets into space is no small feat. It required precision akin to planning a lunar landing, factoring in launch and retrieval sites and even Mother Nature’s whims—as wind, rain, and snow could send the balloon drastically off course. But when launch day arrived with perfect conditions, it was “all systems go.” And go, it did—up, up, and away.

It went off without a hitch. The nine-foot-diameter balloon ascended as planned, expanding to almost 50 feet in diameter as it made its way to space, reaching its peak altitude of 20 miles above the Earth’s surface before bursting and hurtling back to Earth at speeds up to 131 MPH. With a parachute deployed, our precious cargo made a safe descent, all captured on film during the two-hour journey.

As an unexpected bonus, we were lucky enough to view our very own Tops Monopoly solar eclipse on our package’s descent back to Earth.

Every year we look for new ways to drive engagement throughout the Tops Monopoly Rip It and Win It timeline. Physically sending 1,000 tickets up to space added another layer of excitement to the in-store game and provided additional opportunities for engagement throughout the promotion—the tickets from inside the package were given away through various events, allowing lucky recipients the opportunity to get their hands on something that had been to space and back!

Lauren Shapiro, Creative Director, FARM

Marketing tactics that are written in the stars

Flight footage was time-lapsed and used in a video to hype up the campaign’s launch and share details on some of the top prizes, including a Skygazing Trip at NYC’s Hayden Planetarium, a trip to Norway to see the Northern Lights, and $20,000 in free food and fuel.

Tops broadcast the behind-the-scenes video at an eclipse-viewing event three weeks into the promotion, where some lucky recipients were given tickets that had been to space. And social media contests provided opportunities at various points of the six-week promotion for more space tickets to be given away.

The sky is never the limit—it’s just the beginning.

Looking back, our journey from launchpad to the stars embodied the transformative power of creativity and collaboration. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and even the most ambitious ideas should be explored because they can make some incredible marketing that brings a campaign’s heart to life. And in the ever-expanding universe of advertising, going where no grocer has dared to go before can make all the difference.

Watch the video below to witness how we pulled off this incredible mission!

Do you want your own chance to send something to space? Check out Send My Stuff To Space to learn about how you can make it possible.

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Kim McCarthy
Account Supervisor
With a majority of her 12-year career focused on consumer and retail clients, Kim thrives on the challenge of a tight deadline or unexpected curveball. When she’s not briefing her team or strategizing a new campaign, you’ll find her spending time with her husband and two kids, buried in a book or scouring online or down the aisle for a good deal (it’s called market research).

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