OPINION: BEALE ON ... CAMELOT

Last Saturday my mum won £759 on the Lottery. A rough calculation suggests she's still a few hundred quid down on the deal, having played religiously since the birth of the big finger in 1994.

Still, she's spent the past few days finding new lucky numbers for the new £50 million EuroMillions booty and bugger any cynics (me) who point out that the chances of winning Camelot's Euro hand-out are 76,270,360 to one (yes, that's seventy-six million, two hundred and seventy thousand, three hundred and sixty to one). That's the thing with the Lottery, you win a tenner and somehow the odds on winning a few million or 50 seem to shorten.

Sustaining levels of Lottery frenzy among the Brits, though, has proved a challenge. There's something in our national make-up that keeps our collective levels of excitement below the concupiscence bar. "I've won £759," my mum said. "Put the kettle on."

To the rescue comes this new game. EuroMillions pits the British against the French and the Spanish for the chance to scoop a collective Lottery swag, with other nationalities likely to join in if they think they're hard (up) enough. It's a sign of the times, as someone always says, that the prospect of winning a million is now only slightly more exciting than discovering a new flavour of crisp, and that the stakes have had to be raised 50 times. It's also a sign of the times that the EuroMillions draw will be shown live on Sky One.

Relaxing my pessimistic muscle for a moment, I can't blame anyone for getting a bit sweaty over the thought of winning £50 million. So you might expect this new bonanza (and a new ad agency for Camelot, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO) to get the adrenaline going, set the juices flowing and basically get us all panting for the big draw.

And what has Camelot come up with, then, to make us dribble materialistic drool? Trigger out of Only Fools and Horses playing Robinson Crusoe.

Now you might think that a Robinson Crusoe figure on a desert island is about as brave and innovative an example of an advertising conceit as a housewife with a mop. If only Daniel Defoe had known. But wait, there is some rationale yet. I'll explain very carefully. Our Rob has, of course, got a Man Friday.

Friday, bless him, is all excited because he's won the EuroMillions game.

Cue nice new villa, flash car, bespoke suit. And why (oh, why)? Because the EuroMillions draw takes place every Friday. Ah! "There's something different about Fridays," the voiceover bludgeons.

It's true that the ad really doesn't have to tell you any more than the fact that there's a new game and you might win £50 million one Friday.

But given the evidence of Lottery fatigue that inevitable settles in after each new game is launched, surely there's an excuse for a bit more wit and sparkle, to get a bit of a buzz going. Here the ad fails miserably.

And the whole thing compounds the real problem with the Lottery: it's so bloody confusing. I've never worked out what a Bonus Ball is, or a Thunderball, or a Hotpick, or an Extra; interestingly, Camelot's Dianne Thompson says she's got "balls of steel", just to thicken the plot. Now the EuroMillions and its two Lucky Stars and 12 levels of prizes adds another layer of impenetrable jargon.

The good news is that the National Lottery has created 1,600 millionaires and raised £15 billion for good causes; EuroMillions will undoubtedly raise more cash for the worthy. And if you're already thinking up some lucky numbers for your EuroMillions punt, bear in mind that the whole thing kicks off on Friday 13th.

Dead cert for a Pencil? Could be useful for marking off those numbers,

but fat chance.

File under ... L for location shoot.

What would the chairman's wife say? "Gambling, how vulgar."

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