When an online copy of Scrabble called Scrabulous appeared on Facebook, it quickly amassed 2.3 million fans who played it every day. It was an amazing user-generated ad campaign, and sales of real Scrabble boards increased. All Hasbro and Mattel (the owners of Scrabble) had to do was swoop in with their cheque books and make it legit; instead they treated Scrabulous as a simple case of piracy and threatened to sue. It may have been smarter to cut a deal rather than anger potential customers. Thousands signed up to the "Save Scrabulous" Facebook group. One fan threatened a hunger strike. Hasbro and Mattel are still talking tough, but if the backlash continues they may be forced to eat their words.
Managing directors take note! Don't let your legal department make a decision about pirates without talking to marketing first, because pirates can sometimes refresh the parts other ad strategies cannot reach.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Defending the indefensible
The Guardian has an article in defense of piracy – at least, the intellectual property kind. Though the industry might try to convince us that stealing music is just as bad as real stealing, people aren't buying it. The Guardian article (which I found via Reason's Hit & Run blog) discusses some of the virtues of piracy: