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Octopus TV Failure Awards - Trump - The Game

Octopus TV Failure Awards – Trump - The Game by Andrew Eborn

In this weekly series, Andrew Eborn, President of Octopus TV and Knot The Truth and Founder of the Octopus TV Failure Awards, shines a light on the products and services, brand extensions and campaigns that failed to take off and have as a result earned entry into the Octopus TV Failure Awards.

As Andrew Eborn points out “We always celebrate success whilst hiding the failures that led to that success. The Octopus TV Failure Awards finally give failure the attention it deserves. If necessity is the mother of invention then failure is the father of success. From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.”

Thank you for all of your nominations so far. Keep ‘em coming! Send your nominations now together with full description and images to

With the impeachment inquiry underway this week we look at a product featuring everyone’s favourite POTUS, Trump – The Game

Where would we be without Donald Trump?

Contrary to all the pollsters, I successfully predicted that The Trumpster would make it to The White House winning me money from the head of a major media company in the process – it was news to Fox…

Do not be surprised when he secures a second term..

Every day The Donald never fails to deliver more and more gold nuggets for journalists, brands, comedians and creatives.

Trump is the master media manipulator.

Trumpeting Trump

Like him or loathe him, one thing for sure is that Trump is a powerful brand.

The market is flooded with Trump merchandise both licensed and unlicensed.

From the 12 inch Donald doll from Stevenson which utters 17 Trump recorded phrases including such classics as

"I should fire myself just for having you around"

To the usual caps, mugs, T-Shirts, badges and other merchandise on the campaign trail to Making America Great Again

All the way to Trump scented candles

Given how much money can be generated from the lucrative board games market a Trump board game was inevitable..

Board? This’ll wake you up…

Trade analysis magazine ICv2 estimated that in 2015 the card and board games market was worth US$1.2 billion in US and Canada alone.

The global board games market is predicted to be worth almost US$5 billion by 2021

Impressively, in 2015 over US$200m was raised though crowd funding platforms for board games. On Kickstarter, table top games made 6 times more than video games in the first half of 2016. The game Exploding Kittens raised almost US$9milion making it one of the most successful projects since Kickstarter was founded in 2009 together with a reprint of another board game, Kingdom Death Monster, which raised more than $12m.

Smorgasbord of services

It is a business I know well. I am involved with several companies across the IP value chain from idea creation, production, distribution and new technology including holograms, offering a smorgasbord of services. As part of that value chain, I am Head of Commercial & Strategy of Boxatricks with the creators of some of the biggest game shows in history including Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and The Weakest Link. We have several new and exciting formats and are kept busy devising the next big thing. In addition, we are engaged as format doctors to help others maximise the return on their rights across all media including bringing their formats to the screen as well as creating shows for brands and existing IPs such as turning the card game Top Trumps into a TV game show. “Get Carter”? “Top Trump” ! ….

Shelf Life

Board games have a long life cycle - an average of 8 years. Some last for generations. Monopoly, for example, was launched in 1935 and is still one of the most popular board games enjoying its highest number of sales more than 80 years after it was introduced.

The revenue that can be generated from the strategic licensing of intellectual property is significant.

Profit margins can be enormous. Want to know how? Get in touch…

Get it right and the world is your lobster.

Trump:The Game

With this in mind, Jeffrey Breslow, a leading games inventor and former President and CEO of Big Monster Toys, had the idea for a board game based on everyone’s favourite Big Monster, Donald Trump and his 1987 book “The Art of The Deal”.

Breslow pitched the idea to Trump and suggested splitting the profits equally. Trump replied, "I don't do 50-50" It was agreed that Trump would receive 60 to Breslow's 40 percent. Breslow said, "The game wasn't sellable without Donald Trump. He could have squeezed me for even 80-20. He knew he was in the driver's seat."

It will upset The Donald to read that he could have got more….

The Game was launched by Milton Bradley Company at Trump Tower on 7th February 1989. At the launch The Donald announced that he was not looking to make money from the game himself rather his percentage of the game’s profits would be donated to charity. “The game was just ego to him, one more promotion” Breslow said.

In the predictable fear and smear during the cut and thrust of the US Presidential election campaign The Huffington Post had the audacity to question Trump’s claimed charitable donations….

Trump Has A New Game

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's whether you win!"

Trump was happy to help promote the game and even appeared in the TV commercial.

Trump – The Game is a roll and move game about buying and selling real estate. It was described as a boring and complicated variation of Monopoly although Trump – never backwards in coming forwards - pointed out "I really like the game. It's much more sophisticated than Monopoly.”

Trump: The Game flopped shifting just 40% of its expected 2 million sales.

Milton Bradley President George Ditomassi said "The game was just nailed to the shelf." Trump himself admitted the game was "too complicated"

In 2004, following the success of The Apprentice, however, Parker Brothers re-released the game with simplified rules and a new tagline: “It takes brains to make millions. It takes Trump to make billions.”

Players make their way round the board with plastic “T” shaped markers buying and selling real estate trying to make more money than the other players. Each player begins with US$500 million. The smallest denomination is US$10m.

The object: Bluff opponents into spending foolishly while you buy low and sweep up big profits.

As a signed letter from Trump states “The object of the game is to make ..hundreds of millions of dollars. If you are clever, aggressive and lucky, you could end up with a billion or more!”

Trump is everywhere in the game. His face is featured on the money and the game’s most important cards are the “THE DONALD” and “YOU'RE FIRED”.

Trumpian truisms appear on each “Trump card” such as “I would fire the person most likely to fire me.”

Game Over

Breslow recognised that Trump: The Game - whilst tipping its hat to Monopoly - was never going to enjoy the same success. He told the Washington Post: “A huge percentage of those games were never taken out of the box. It was bought as a gift item, a novelty, a curiosity. Trump got that. He had zero interest in how the game played.”

…and that’s about the level of interest most of those who did play it managed to muster…

Whilst the Chicago Tribune felt “It’s a sophisticated acquire-and-deal game” others were not so kind. Los Angeles Times said it was: “not the kind of thing you want to pull out on the spur of the moment when grandma comes over.”

Another reviewer said “I loathed every miserable second of it”

Phil Orbanes, senior vice president of research and development for Parker Brothers, pointed out that Trump's game "..can leave you exhausted and feeling like you don't want to play again. As accurate as it may be at capturing the feeling of insecurity in the real world, the game doesn't give you a feel-good experience, which is the purpose most people rely on for playing games."

Time magazine listed the game among the "Top 10 Donald Trump Business Failures

and Fortune included the game in its list of five Trump "business fumbles"

“a great game if you don't have very many friends”

Mother Jones magazine summed up the feeling of several critics "This is a great game if you don't have very many friends..the game's flaws—its erratic nature, its contradictions, its singular obsession with the rapid accumulation of wealth for the purpose of acquiring luxury real estate and firing people—are also Trump's flaws" Trump "basically took Monopoly money, stuck his face on it, and added a bunch of zeroes."

“Teflon Trump: the President’s Game avoiding impeachment” cunningly devised by Andrew Eborn

It has been 15 years since the last re-launch…and a lot has happened since. It would be interesting, therefore, to update the product to “Trump – The President’s Game” Third time lucky perhaps ……

In your quest to Make America Great again, the cards saying whether you move backwards or forwards in the game could include:

- Benefit from hacking from Russia and/or Kiev

- Caught engaging in locker room banter

- Caught pussy grabbing

- hurl new insults at “crocked Hillary” and anyone else who dares runs against you. What happened? Indeed!

- Claim the largest crowd ever in the history of crowds

- Roll, move and auction your way to Mexico paying for a wall

- Sack your staff – when your spin doctors are the story you know you’re in trouble..Scaramouch, Scaramouch etc etc

- Claim to invent “fake news

- blame the fake news media for any story you don’t like

- sack your staff, again

- Tweet throughout

- Invent a new language – cup of covfefe, anyone?

- Call multi-Oscar Winner, Meryl Streep “overrated”

- Hold Theresa May’s hand to stop her running through corn fields creating more crop circles

- Tell Macron’s wife she is in “great shape”

- Threaten to tear up the deals on nuclear weapons / climate change etc etc

- Add more hot air to the baby balloon

- Break Royal protocol and walk in front of the Queen

- continue to test Constitutional customs

- Re-write The Constitution of the United States to ensure that there is no limit to the Presidential term

- Consume your body weight in Big Macs

- Set up Trump Network News (TNN)

- Establish transactional relationships with anyone who can advance the Trump brand

- Seek political favours from a foreign power "History and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government," wrote the first President, George Washington, in his farewell address.

- Call the Ukrainian President

- Pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter

- delay US$400m of military aid to Ukraine

- Go talk to Rudy

- Get over it

- Unmask a whistle-blower in the intelligence community

- stage sideshows to thwart Democratic hopes of presenting the public with a clear narrative.

- Don’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story

- Flood the media with a trove of conspiracy theories, distractions and misinformation designed to confuse the public and fog clarity

- Dismiss investigation as a biased, politically motivated hoax and a witch hunt

- Recognise offence is the best form of defence

- Recognise perception is deception © Andrew Eborn

- Claim to be too busy to watch proceedings

- Use both regular and irregular channels

- Avoid Impeachment

- Pick the winner of The British General Election

The Game would be won when you get re-elected or the world ends whichever is the sooner….….

(send your further suggestions to

© Andrew Eborn 2019 All Rights Reserved

The Octopus TV Failure Awards / TOFA

Trump will continue to provide gainful employment for journalists, comedians and licensing companies for the foreseeable future and I predict will be successful in securing a second term – assuming the world survives his first. That said, “Trump:The Game” was a failure and is therefore this week’s nomination for The Octopus TV Failure Awards.

See you next time for more fantastically fabulous failures ….

Send your nominations for Octopus TV Failure Awards with full description and images to In addition to international recognition and glittering prizes the winners will receive the much valued TOFA

From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures, not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.

Follow Andrew Eborn @OctopusTV @AndrewEborn @KnotTheTruth

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