Tops Friendly Markets: That’s a Rap

Client Spotlight

Matt Cascarino

3 Minute Read

How the Power of Song Lifted an Annual Marketing Campaign to New Heights

When we have the good fortune to produce a broadcast television commercial for a client, we scrutinize every detail to make sure each frame is perfect. But when that spot is a 30-second rap video, we assemble it as quickly as possible before the client changes their mind.

This year marks the 12th anniversary of the Tops® MONOPOLY© sweepstakes—a yearly collaboration between our client and regional grocer, Tops Friendly Markets, and celebrated toy and game company Hasbro. Modeled after the classic board game, the promotion is called “Rip it & Win it!” where Tops shoppers receive a game ticket with every store visit. Then, stoking everyone’s incendiary love of instant gratification, customers rip the ticket open to reveal their claim of more than 30 million dollars in savings and prizes.

Over the years, we’ve created campaign concepts that featured Mr. Monopoly showcasing his glamorous world of prizes while riding a gigantic flying strawberry, as an on-the-run action hero, and, presumably on the advice of his doctor, relaxing in a deck chair. This year, we could have approached this recurring exercise in one of two ways. We could consume ourselves with worry over having exhausted all of the good ideas or view it as an opportunity to explore the shimmering edges of our creative daring. Never ones to back away from a good challenge, we chose the latter.

Of the five options we presented to Tops, any one of them would have done well to breathe new life into the long-standing campaign. But we had a favorite. It was an original rap song, performed by an animated Mr. Monopoly within the live-action setting of a grocery store, where Tops shoppers and staff cut loose with their comically amateur dance skills.

It was our star not solely because it was cool and unexpected, but because it was cool and unexpected without abandoning the identity of the campaign, the values of our client, and the engaging voice we’ve helped Tops cultivate during our partnership. We also preferred the concept because it demonstrated our ability to place a familiar board game character within the context of hip-hop music’s continued absorption into popular culture. We would have never before pictured Mr. Monopoly kicking back after a long day of tycooning, belting out selections from Hamilton with an ardor typically reserved for berating the staff. But now, we couldn’t envision anything else.

After securing client approval, we still needed the blessing of Hasbro’s branding and legal teams. During the process, we learned that referring to Mr. Monopoly as “DJ Cumulus Nimbus” was forbidden. But somehow, the word “cumulonimbus” survived exhaustive rounds of script edits, proving that lyrical poetry and meteorology aren’t the poorly matched bedfellows we had always assumed.

We couldn’t have made any of this happen without the support and enthusiasm of our extended family of filmmakers, animaters, and sound engineers. And a special thanks to our good friends at Tops, who were willing to go for it when they could have just as easily held their hands in the air and waved them like they just didn’t care.

If your marketing campaigns could use a little fresh perspective, give us a shout! We’d love to have a conversation.

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