LIVE ISSUE/THE NATIONAL LOTTERY: Camelot’s new agency takes on challenging brief - WCRS wants us to learn to love the lottery again Will we? Report by Karen Yates.

There is a much warmer and friendlier National Lottery waiting in the wings, we are told, now Camelot has ditched Saatchi & Saatchi and chosen WCRS as its agency (Campaign, last week). There’ll be no ’hand of fortune’ bearing down on us from the dark night sky, for example, and definitely no promises that ’it could be you’. The fact is, that after four years of diligently buying lottery tickets, word has got around that it probably won’t. Be you, that is.

There is a much warmer and friendlier National Lottery waiting in

the wings, we are told, now Camelot has ditched Saatchi & Saatchi and

chosen WCRS as its agency (Campaign, last week). There’ll be no ’hand of

fortune’ bearing down on us from the dark night sky, for example, and

definitely no promises that ’it could be you’. The fact is, that after

four years of diligently buying lottery tickets, word has got around

that it probably won’t. Be you, that is.



’For four years we’ve been talking to our public about winning the

lottery, but the reality is that few people do,’ Ian Milligan, marketing

director of Camelot, says.



Milligan, who joined the lottery organiser from Kellogg’s in January, is

a lifelong fmcg man. As such, he sees his job clearly - work out a

proposition, tell the public about it and then deliver it.



His problem, however, is equally clear. If the average chance of winning

the jackpot is 14 million to one (for the most popular Saturday draw),

how can you expect punters to seriously believe that it could be

them?



’The public has moved on in its perception,’ Milligan says, explaining

why the team at Camelot is rehashing its advertising. Milligan says they

had worked with Saatchis for 12 months to try to find a new direction,

but event-ually called a pitch. In this, Alan Bishop, the chairman of

Saatchis, chose to defend ’it could be you’, and did not make it through

to the final shootout, which took place last month between WCRS, Pub-

licis, Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters and M&C Saatchi.



The lottery is now four years old and, while sales are still healthy,

ev- erything isn’t well in the kingdom of Camelot. Instants, for

example, have slumped from a peak of 44.4 million sales a week in 1995

when the product was launched, to a mere 14 million or so this

summer.



Similarly, although on a much smaller scale, the combined sales of

Camelot’s Wednesday and Saturday draws are coming in at around 85

million a week, compared with sales regularly in the nineties when the

midweek draw started 18 months ago.



Of course, an estimated 94 per cent of the adult population have played

the lottery and some 65 per cent regularly play it to this day. The

National Lottery is Britain’s biggest brand in terms of retail sales and

even the much-maligned Instants is well ahead of big brands such as

Coca-Cola.



To put things in perspective, the UK public spends eight times more

money on the lottery than it does on Coke, according to recent research

by AC Nielsen.



The problem is one of image. There was the fat cat row, for example, in

which Camelot bosses were slated for collecting huge bonuses following

the launch of the lottery. Then there was the small matter of Guy

Snowden, a key board member of Camelot, being accused by Richard Branson

of bribery - and then failing in a libel action against Branson.



None of this would matter, of course, if the National Lottery had wormed

its way into the heart of consumers. But research has shown that the

values about the brand that the public recalls are not as warm and

positive as they should be. We remember the lottery for taking our money

each week and paying it to the top brass - not for funding good causes

or making our lives more fun.



It is a common phenomenon, according to Stephen Woodford, the managing

director of WCRS, which he describes as lottery fatigue. ’At first it’s

a novelty, but that begins to wear off. It happens all around the world.

All lotteries need relaunching every three to four years,’ he says.



This relaunch - scheduled for November - will give the lottery a more

entertaining and approachable personality and will, accord-ing to

Woodford, ’be more rooted in everyday life’.



’There will be a much more open and honest approach. What we have to do

is to bring the National Lottery closer to the people,’ Milligan

adds.



’It will still be a ’national institution’, but more enjoyable, like

that other great British institution, Coronation Street.’



Milligan will not be drawn on how this will be achieved, except to say

that WCRS has come up with a ’big idea’. However, his conversation is

peppered with clues. He likes the idea, for example, of local ads that

will remind people how much money the lottery gives to good causes. Such

ads could, perhaps, carry a telephone number so people can find out how

the cash has helped and find out how to get a grant themselves.



Another hint of the things to come is Milligan’s admiration for WCRS’s

work for Orange and, in particular, the way it pervades every public

face of the mobile phone company. Oh, and he’s a big fan of the crossed

fingers logo.



In any event, the next couple of years will be critical for Camelot.



Its seven-year licence to run the lottery expires in 2001 so the

corporation only has two clear years before re-manoeuvring begins for

the next bidding round. So will WCRS have to get involved in some

serious lobbying?



Milligan doesn’t like the word lobbying. He does concede, however, that

the new, wider approach to the brand will have one eye on 2001. ’The

renewal is a long way down the track. But it does mean that three years

out we have to make sure all our relationships, all our marketing

platforms are at the top of their game,’ he admits. ’As well as the

playing public, there are a number of people we want to appeal to.’



Leader and Editor’s Perspective, p 21.



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