Mattel’s Latest PR Trick: A New Game of Scrabble, with Proper Nouns


From the category “what idiotic news people obsess about next” the media related today something that sounded like an April Fools Day joke, promptly infirmed by CNET’s Daniel Terdiman in his witty editorial: The sky isn’t falling: Scrabble rules aren’t changing.

Somehow, somebody (including the London Times, which would rather delete the whole article than publishing a retraction), reported that the official Scrabble rules will change starting this July:

The rules of word game Scrabble are being changed for the first time in its history to allow the use of proper nouns, games company Mattel has said. (BBC news report).

The journalists in cause may have had inaccurate reports from Mattel, or may have suffered of accute laziness – anything goes. The truth is that Mattel will roll a Scrabble Trickster version of the game in England. This version alone will allow the use of proper nouns, plus a few other “tricks” (including spelling words backwards and stealing letters). Fun, fun, fun… but is it Scrabble? (It would certainly be Scrabble for my 15 year old!)

It took time till the media understood who, where, why, when and what. Daniel Terdiman of CNET had to dig, contact US Hasbro representatives (the company that owns the rights for Scrabble in US and Canada) and the American Scrabble Association, and he finally received the answer you’ve already guessed:

It’s nothing more than a PR ploy by Mattel.


This idea was suggested by John Williams, the executive director of the American Scrabble Association. This is the first man to confirm that Scrabble Trickster was a new game, totally different from the original, old-style, perennial game. This game will only be available in the UK (for the time being) this till it “catches” other “brilliant” minds.

Mind you, it has all chances to becoming popular – if you are a Scrabble fan you know that some players would do anything for those points. A game with no rules, or at least silly rules, now that’s a dream come true (!). And don’t forget to give Mattel the due credit… A brilliant PR move, conducted by a brilliant mind, unfortunately deceiving and misleading. Add to this media incompetence and you got the full picture. Mattel doesn’t mind – and why should they? After all, they just announced a new game, with new rules and not new rules to the old game. Confusing, huh?

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