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
’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
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
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
’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
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
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.