Clue is latest product to get a brand makeover

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Product not selling like hot potatoes (or Mr. Potato...) anymore? The answer to your problems may be a brand makeover. The latest to engage in a major-scale renovation is the classic board game Clue. Hasbro is giving the 60-year-old setting, characters and weapons a modern-day wash.

The mansion is getting a renovation and now has rooms like a spa, theater and guest house, according to NPR, which interviewed Rob Daviau, the man who crafted the campaign. There will also be nine weapons instead of six, losing the lead pipe and adding a trophy, ax and baseball bat. Colonel Mustard lis now a former football star and Mr. Plum is a dot-com millionaire.

Will this be enough to get a new generation interested in the game? Monopoly has stayed in favor for many years by constantly offering new versions of itself, using movie characters and basically any brand association that is willing ot pay its licensing fee. M&M's just announced a rebranding effort earlier this week.

The strategy is not unique to consumer products. When things aren't going well -- and sometimes even when things are great, but the company just wants to get another publicity burst -- most businesses take a chance on a redesign or revamping. New Coke notwithstanding, most people get a small bump from any rebranding and regroup accordingly.

With tough times ahead for many retailers and products, you can expect a lot more of these efforts. Before the companies just give up and file for bankruptcy, they will try one last time to sell their goods. There may come to be so many that they stop making headlines, which almost defeats the purpose.

Here are a few candidates for makeovers:

  • Macy's: The retailer used to be a premier retail destination, but has fallen on hard times as clothing retailers have suffered. Even the flagship shop on 34th St. is getting shabby -- it's racks sloppy and crowded with discount wares. The company is trying celebrity endorsements of late, but their best bet may be to appeal to the consumers who are voting with their feet for Target and Wal-Mart. That means stocking more low-cost items, and adding bigger sections of toys, housewares and other department store items rather than focusing on clothes.
  • Curious George: George is stlll popular, but he's no longer a superstar, despite a major motion picture in 2006. The market is just too crowded with characters and his more recent makeovers haven't done him justice. What might be in order is a throw-back campaign, taking his design closer to his original, to get nostalgic Gen Xers to buy George products for their kids.
  • Tetris: Small-concept video games are back as mobile applications, but Tetris hasn't made a full comeback yet. In fact, the bubble of time where Tetris was popular was so small that many young kids now have never even heard of it (and Boomers are still pretty clueless as well). A makeover could spring this simple game back into vogue.

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