Blogstar is a simple idea born out of the traditional Monopoly board game and turned into a cool viral vehicle of buzz marketing. The rules are slightly different than a normal Monopoly game. In Blogstar, instead of earning money and buying properties to win, you can buy popular blogs and Google PageRank!
Photo credit: Ophelia Cherry
If you are looking for cool new PR idea that could get involved lots of bloggers in your language market, you may want to find out more about the story of Juliette and Marco, two Italian guys who have set out to create the blogosphere version of Monopoly.
The game, which for now is only in Italian, is available online since before the Christmas holidays and it's distributed under a CC license. On the site you immediately download the PDF of the board as well as graphics for the cards, and everything else. But the game is also available as real physical object, just like the traditional monopoly and it is sold at less around $25.
I was obviously flattered to find myself inside the game, along some of the most popular and well known Italian bloggers and have contacted Juliette Bellavita to have a brief online video interview to learn more about how her project and how it had come to be.
In this video you can hear the story of the Blogstar game, and what it took to make it happen.
You can use this as an effective model of how you can take established and successful products and still invent out of them new innovative, personalized vehicles for effective communication. Whether to create extra branding or to provide a way to do get outside of the traditional PR approaches, Juliette's and Marco's idea seems to be an interesting example of how you can engage opinion leaders and stars in any niche and make them your best marketing agents.
Full English Text Transcription
Robin Good: Hello everyone here is Robin Good from Rome, Italy and you're wondering who am I interviewing today, check this out guys!
This is the box of an incredible, new, physical game that is available for purchase online. It's called Bogstar Game.
Show me the whole box Juliette!
Juliette Bellavita: This is the game.
Robin Good: As you see, there is a wonderful girl behind it, and BlogStar Game is basically Monopoly, the friendly-game, made into a bloggers game.
Juliette Bellavita, who's sitting here on my left side, she's just here because I've received this game and I've been playing with my kids, my nephews, my relatives, for all the Xmas-new year's holidays.
It's fantastic because instead of having the train station and the post office, and all this stuff, you got all different blogs, and each one has a different value, and you can buy links from others and get more value for yourself, increase your Google PageRank, and every time somebody passes on your blog, they got to pay you.
It's really quite interesting for all the bloggers involved, but let me ask a few questions to Juliette.
Juliette Bellavita: Hi!
The Idea of a Board Game
Robin Good: Juliette, how and when did you get this idea?
Juliette Bellavita: I got this idea with my friend Marco Magnocavallo, and we started thinking of Blogstar Game this Summer, during our holidays, and at the beginning it was just an idea.
We were kidding about the blogosfera, the blogs scene. We started thinking about a game, if we can play a game with the most important Italian bloggers.
Day by day we started to do a draft of the game, and at the beginning we were thinking to do just a PDF, downloadable by our web site. and day by day we started to do the graphic design, we started to print a copy of the game, and this is the result.
After six months we had a copy of Blogstar Game and we sent it to all the bloggers in Italy involved into the game. Some bought the game, and some just play with the PDF downloadable by our web site.
Robin Good: Yes, in fact, it is available on the site, you can purchase it right now. It is reachable at www.blogstargame.com. Very easy to remember, and right there you can buy it right now.
Inside the Box
Robin Good: Juliette, why don't you open it up and show few of the pieces inside, so people get an idea of what the game looks like, if they don't know Monopoly.
Juliette Bellavita: Yeah, sure. This is the box and inside you have the board game, with all the people, you have the chances... It's a sort of Monopoly, you have more or less the same board, and this is Robin Good! And you have the jail, which is the ban from search engines such as Google, etc.
And inside you have all the pieces. This is "popularity", that you can earn buying some blogs or playing with the game...
...all the pieces inside...
...and these are the chances like in Monopoly, so you have lots of questions, or something that happens to you. Some are good, some are bad, so you can never know!
These are the bloggers... voilá, here. A lot of blogs!
Robin Good: Tell us what is on those cards you just showed Juliette.
Juliette Bellavita: For example this is MacchiaNera, an Italian blogger, and you have the PageRank for every player, every blog.
You know, in Monopoly you can buy some houses or..
Robin Good: ...property.
Juliette Bellavita: ...exactly, here you can buy your PageRank, so I have 1 PageRank, my blog has PageRank 1. You buy two... you increase your PageRank, and your popularity grows.
This is the sense of the game. That's it.
Robin Good: Good, I'm sure Google likes it very much, because finally there is a market for PageRank, you just pay and you can buy PageRank, that's fantastic!
Buy the Game or Download It For Free
Robin Good: The interesting thing is also how you manage to market and to make this somewhat sustainable, because I'm sure this didn't cost like nothing when you do a game on the Internet or a PDF.
This must have costed you not only a lot of time, but also serious money, so tell us: How did you find a way to make this sustainable, and how did you market this?
Juliette Bellavita: At the beginning we didn't have an idea about the costs, etc. We thought just to do a PDF. When we started to do the game, so the box, etc, we had some costs and we had a partnership with Blogo.it.
We sold the boxes, the game, to Blogo, and Blogo gives the game to their partners, or bloggers. They promote our blog and they give us some money to product the game.
Robin Good: Good. If I understand correctly - because my international readers may not know Blogo - Blogo is one of the most popular commercial blog networks...
Juliette Bellavita: It's a nanopublishing platform.
Robin Good: ...good, and you have proposed to them - because one of the guy behind Blogo is co-author with you of the idea - you said: "Why don't we offer Blogo this as a sponsorship, branded item, that they could give to their customers, so they get promotion, so they say: "Oh, that's nice", and so we get some money back".
Juliette Bellavita: Exactly.
Blogstar Game in Different Languages
Robin Good: You told me just before we did a short interview in Italian before this one, that you're also planning, considering to do this also for other languages, in the world is that right?
Juliette Bellavita: Exactly, in Spain for example, because the blogosphere is very interesting or, why not, in the United States. It depends if we can find a sponsor or someone interested in the idea that wants to follow the same model of Blogo for example.
So they can pay for the game and send it to their customers, or the people, to just let them know the game and promote the company too.
Robin Good: So, if you're in Spain, Latin America, or even the United States, and you think this is a great idea, Juliette Bellavita is certainly interested in talking to you, because this is really a nice, little, simple idea.
Why Blogstar Game Is a Nice Idea
Robin Good: From the simplest stuff the greatest things come out, and I have to say that Juliette and Marco who have created this game have really done some interesting.
- First of all because they didn't do it for the money, or for creating a business, although they may create one, or a new line of business,
- and secondly because you can see from they game that they really did it because they enjoyed themselves, involving all the Italian people, bloggers in something that was not just another technical discovery or a way to get on top of Google search engine page results.
My compliments to Juliette, if you want to leave again everybody with your blog URL and with the Blogstar Game site, this is all for me. I really wanted just to have you here for a few minutes to share such a great invention you brought to theblogosphere.
Juliette Bellavita: Thank you!
Robin Good: If you want to check out Juliette personal blog go to margotmood... just like you see on top of her video there, and that's margotmood.blogspot.com, or you can go to blogstaregame.com and check out the game, download it in PDF totally for free, or spend a few bucks and buy it directly, and get it shipped wherever you are.
Thanks, thank you very much Juliette!
Juliette Bellavita: Thank you, bye!
Robin Good: Have a great day, ciao!
Originally shot and recorded by Robin Good for MasterNewMedia and first published on January 30, 2009 as "PR Ideas: How To Engage Your Blogosphere A-Listers With A Board Game - Blogstargame".