Last week, Camelot replaced its "Lady Luck" ad campaign with a new advertising strategy.
In the first of many ads in a £2 million campaign by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, an animated character called Milo finds a bag of smiles (a metaphor for winning the Lottery) and it changes his life.
It's an artistic, delicately executed affair, particularly when compared with the brash Fay Ripley "Lady Luck" character and her talking, purple-maned unicorn, voiced by Graham Norton.
While Lady Luck promoted products such as Euro Millions and Lotto, this campaign aims to communicate the more nebulous feelgood factor of the Lottery: both the fantasy of winning it, and the benefits the country enjoys from the money raised.
"We wanted to create ads that people talk about. We're here to generate money for good causes and we create winners - it's a dynamic, fun, feelgood business," the Camelot chief executive, Dianne Thompson, says.
The campaign breaks just two weeks before the launch of Chariot UK, a new weekly alternative to the National Lottery, and as Camelot prepares to bid for the third time for its licence, which expires in 2009. Chariot is offering bigger prizes for matching three, four or five numbers. The odds of winning will also be better. And the company is promising 30p from every £1 will go to charities, 2p more than Camelot donates.
The threat of competition offers a more convincing explanation for the new strategy than the one offered by Camelot and AMV, which many in the industry find illogical.
"The ad's strategy is about giving you permission to dream," Simon Burridge, the chairman of Virgin Games and former chief executive of The People's Lottery, Richard Branson's unsuccessful lottery bid, says. "The difficulty with this is that one person's dream is another's nightmare. And the execution is annoying and unbelievable - why the childlike voiceover for something only over-16s can buy?"
Simon Clemmow, a partner at Clemmow Hornby Inge, says: "The business task is to get current consumers to buy more products, not increase penetration. So any strategy that focuses on winning or luck undersells the product."
Thompson denies the ad is positioned to broaden its appeal and cites the statistic that 70 per cent of adults already play as evidence that Camelot is not concerned with reaching new audiences.
Perhaps one reason why some remain unconvinced by the new tack is that the objectives of previous Lottery campaigns were more obvious. The "Lady Luck" ads were concerned with building sales after six years of decline.
Before that, WCRS's "project red" ads talked about the money Camelot gave to good causes. They replaced the universally panned "don't live a little, live a Lotto" Billy Connolly campaign, which ran during its unpopular spell. At the time, Thompson credited "project red" for helping reverse Camelot's fortunes.
With sales of £90 million a week and a strong profile (Thompson points out that two of Camelot's products are in the top ten UK consumer brands), there is an argument that Camelot doesn't require a change in strategy.
While creating a feeling of warmth among its consumers is no doubt an advantage, it seems more likely that Camelot is eyeing the new competition warily and getting its punch in first.
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LOTTERY EXPERT - SIMON BURRIDGE, CHAIRMAN, VIRGIN GAMES
"When you buy a Lottery ticket, what you get is a piece of paper with, invariably, the wrong numbers on it.
"Since the advertising effectively constitutes the Lottery's public face, it therefore has to be both likeable and watchable. This campaign fails on both counts.
"The line 'what if you won?' is powerful, since lotteries are about dreams, which make what precedes the line so strange. Dreams might come true. Fairytales, by definition, never do. And shouldn't they be making you smile, rather than telling you to?"
CREATIVE - PAUL SHEARER, FOUNDING PARTNER, NITRO
"The new ad for Camelot's Lottery switches strategy from 'I could win' to the end benefit of 'what would you feel like if you won?'.
"My question would be: 'Is this beautifully executed, Tim Burton-like film too highbrow for Jack and Vera, who, week in week out, buy Lottery tickets?' Would they not respond to the more direct messaging they had in the previously executed ads?
"I would put my numbers on the latter. While this ad appeals to my creative side, and I think it is an improvement on the last campaign, which I liked, it doesn't wash with my real-life side.
"Ultimately, I don't think this strategy will perform better than the previous one."
CLIENT - TIMOTHY RYAN, DIRECTOR, BRAND MARKETING, AOL
"People play the Lottery to win loads of money, so I can see the logic in a giant hand of fate coming out of the sky or a purple-clad Lady Luck with her unicorn sidekick as the harbingers of loads of cash.
"I'm flummoxed by this new campaign. What has a bag of smiles got to do with loads of cash? When I win millions, I want the big house - the smile comes with it. I have a feeling this change of strategy for Camelot will go over the heads of an audience who just want loads of cash and not a bag of smiles. I think the strategy has gone a little too far. It's trying to be too clever."
STRATEGIST - GEORGE BRYANT, HEAD OF PLANNING, ABBOTT MEAD VICKERS BBDO
"Over the past couple of years, the predominant aim of the advertising was to find an integrated way to sell a range of products.
"The new campaign is different . The aim is to re-engage players with the emotional heartland of the brand: why it's enjoyable to play, and the importance of keeping dreams alive was the broader territory.
"So although (in 'Lady Luck') we had a hardworking campaign that was driving sales, there is a bigger thing that the Lottery does: it gives people a reason to dream. Championing the right to dream feels like a big brand cause, and a big brand objective."