National Lottery tugs heartstrings with 'Fisherman' relaunch campaign

Wider strategy, called 'Amazing starts here', seeks to show how playing the lottery can change lives for ordinary people.

The National Lottery is relaunching with a new strategy and strapline for the masterbrand, "Amazing starts here", as it looks to deepen engagement with players.

The new campaign – the first since Adam & Eve/DDB won the business from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO – sees The National Lottery operator Camelot dial up the emphasis on its lead brand, which in recent years has become a secondary consideration behind games such as Lotto and EuroMillions.

A two-minute TV ad, called "Fisherman", will debut on Saturday (15 September) during The X Factor on ITV. The emotional film centres on the hardships of a working-class Scottish family, with the father leaving in the dead of night to voyage out to sea and his partner struggling to raise the children alone.

Set to sparse piano chords, the narrative appears to be building towards separation, with the female lead shown entering a solicitor's office and telling a friend she has made a decision. When the fisherman returns, he finds an empty house and a letter.

However, the ad concludes on a happy note, showing that they have in fact won the lottery and that she has been able to purchase a new family home.

As well as 60- and 30-second TV and video-on-demand spots, the campaign also includes digital, social, press and out-of-home activity. OOH work shows the euphoria on the faces of players as they realise they have won.

Media planning and buying was handled by Vizeum.

‘Security – not Champagne and diamonds’

Speaking to Campaign, Hayley Stringfellow, head of brand marketing at Camelot, said a major review of the business had concluded that playing the lottery had become a "private and individual" act, rather than something "everyone knows that everyone is doing", and so risked becoming increasingly "irrelevant".

After pitching its creative business for the first time in a decade, and subsequently hiring A&E/DDB, Stringfellow said that Camelot had resolved to "make The National Lottery awesome again" by reframing its masterbrand and bringing to the fore its core purpose of encouraging gamers to "make Britain better by buying a ticket".

"We knew we needed to make some fundamental changes and that we needed to be more masterbrand-led [rather than game-led]," Stringfellow added.

The concept of "Amazing starts here" emerged from A&E/DDB’s original pitch and will run across marketing for the masterbrand as well as the games. Rather than focusing on super yachts and private islands, the ads will instead be more "grounded" in showing players how winning the lottery can change their lives.

"When I’ve talked to winners, it struck me that the first thing most people do is to secure their homes and homes for their family. It’s about the basics of security, not Champagne and diamonds," she said.

While ads for games including Lotto and scratch cards will retain a "fun and cheeky" tone, campaigns focusing on The National Lottery will seek to emphasise the positive consequences of taking part. The next ad, for instance, due to be released in November, will highlight how lottery funding can help ordinary lives in the UK.

And, with an ever-growing volume of ads for bookmakers dominating media channels, Stringfellow was at pains to point out the difference between The National Lottery and betting brands.

"We need every player to know that they can win – it’s not a bet. The National Lottery is a different thing; it’s a force for good in the whole country. We will not behave in the same way as betting companies. We will make sure we keep our players safe," she added.

‘We didn’t want a John Lewis’

The decision by Camelot to end its long relationship with AMV raised many eyebrows in the industry. Indeed, Campaign’s Jeremy Lee described it as a "brave call" after "many years of consistently hard-working work".

It was a deliberately bold move, Stringfellow admitted, and coincided with other fundamental changes in strategy, including the decision to begin broadcasting the Lottery draw on ITV for the first time, ending its near-25-year partnership with the BBC.

However, while the new ad carries many of the hallmarks of A&E/DDB ads – from its cinematic quality to the emotional storytelling – the former PepsiCo and Marks & Spencer marketer insisted that Camelot wanted something true to its brand values.

"Storytelling was a factor [in the decision to appoint A&E/DDB], but we were sold on the thinking. We wanted something unique. We didn’t want them to ‘do us a John Lewis’; we wanted them to ‘do us a National Lottery’ in a unique and compelling voice," Stringfellow said.

The campaign represents a "fork-in-the-road moment" for the Lottery, she concluded. "This represents everything I’ve wanted to do since joining The National Lottery. I’m beyond excited."