In New York, a man loved working in a toll booth so much that when
he became a millionaire he kept his job and paid for drivers to go
through free of charge. On the other side of the world, in New Zealand,
an ordinary guy who struck it rich bought a swanky top-of-the-range
ride-on mower just to cut the strip of grass in his driveway. The fact
is, in advertising, lottery millionaires are everywhere.
In Spain, for example, they are shown celebrating their new status by
throwing alarm clocks out of the window, while in Norway they buy their
own tank, paint it rainbow colours and join in with local military
In fact, about the only place in the world where you won’t find a madcap
lottery millionaire fooling around with his cash is in the home of the
biggest lottery - Great Britain.
Here in Britain, or so current thinking goes, each of us has our own
personal dream of what we will do with all those lovely millions. So
much so, that research has shown the betting public would deeply resent
being told how to spend their winnings and be turned off doing the
lottery altogether. This, say pundits, was why Saatchi & Saatchi and the
UK lottery operator, Camelot, chose to go down an entirely different
route when the National Lottery launched in this country, and how the
soon-to-be-dropped rallying cry, ’it could be you’, came to be born.
Events have now moved on. Saatchis is no longer on the business, and
WCRS has emerged this month as the victor from Camelot’s gruelling
So the writing is firmly on the wall for ’it could be you’ and its
trademark hand of fate.
A quick look around at how other countries deal with lottery advertising
shows that there are basically very few different approaches to handling
it. In fact, research by the lottery technology giant, Gtech, has
revealed that lottery players anywhere in the world can be broadly
lumped into just five different types.
The study, which was commissioned through Team Saatchi, shows that a
group called the ’life changers’ tend to rule the roost in poorer
countries. ’Life changers’ hope for a jackpot to pull them out of the
mire of their everyday lives. A second group, the ’enthusiastic gamers’,
play the lottery just for fun, often meeting up with friends for the
draw and taking a lot of trouble over choosing each number.
In contrast, the ’serious funster’ enjoys getting together with friends
to play the lottery or await draw results, although he or she is not a
through-and-through convert and would prefer games with more skill. The
’relaxed ritualists’ don’t play for fun at all. These consumers tend to
play more frequently than others, but choose the same numbers every
week, mainly out of habit.
However, the group that lottery advertising agencies most want to get
their hands on are what Gtech has dubbed the ’triggered treaters’.
These punters tend to play on impulse and are therefore the most
susceptible group to advertising.
Most of the world’s advertising, such as New Deal DDB’s award-winning
Lotto work in Norway, or DDB New York’s campaigns for the State Lottery,
chooses to offer quirky images of how winners could spend their
The New York campaign even ends with the line: ’What would you do if you
won the lottery?’
The reason is that the approach has broad appeal over most of the
categories identified by Gtech, although in some parts of the world this
is supplemented by other tacks, such as emphasising the fun of the game.
In New Zealand, for example, a successful campaign was essentially
designed to whip up nail-biting anticipation for each lottery draw. For
this, Saatchis Wellington developed a series of commercials humorously
showing how normal life - even rugby games - had to stop for the
Finally, of course, Camelot could opt to advertise the good causes
helped by lottery money, and early indications from WCRS show that they
are in favour of this.
But this strategy has been tried before, albeit in a small way, and only
works well when the game is linked to a particular charity, as it is in
The truth is that the UK is a pretty unique market, and what will work
abroad may not necessarily be right for the UK. We are, for example the
only lottery not run by a state or government, but a private company
instead, with all the complex politics of that role.
And the UK lottery has another cross to bear - one of the toughest codes
of conduct in the world, placing far more restrictions on the chosen
advertiser than any of its international equivalents.
Lottery advertisers can’t show people giving up their jobs because of
winning the Lottery and they are not allowed to feature children. They
have to remain true to the actual percentage chance of winning (which is
pretty small) and cannot exploit people’s financial anxieties, or
encourage reckless or excessive playing. Neither, according to the code,
should lottery advertising show any religious or political bias ... and
the list goes on.
Which all goes to show that even though WCRS has taken the winning
prize, it is certainly going to have to earn its money.