Hands up anyone who remembers the Totts. The hapless Watford couple
got their full 15 minutes of fame in April as the unlucky National
Lottery winners who didn't get their payout because they couldn't
present their ticket within the mandated 30 days. Mean, cruel Camelot
refused, citing some ridiculous clause in the small print. For an
organisation that appears extraordinarily accident-prone, and whose
chief executive is fond of describing herself as having "balls of steel"
- a remark she may live to regret - it seems fortunate indeed to have
got away with its latest gaffe with as little fuss it did.
Now we hear that Camelot, with sales in the last financial year
declining by 2.6 per cent to pounds 4.9 billion, is to double its
marketing spend to more than pounds 100 million in an effort to rebuild
sales (and meet its self-imposed target of raising pounds 15 billion for
good causes during its second licence period). The chosen methodology is
to increase the number of games and distribution channels. As if there
weren't enough already!
So hooray! A game for every occasion, wallet and mood. And a terminal on
every possible shop counter. This, we must conclude, is the marketing
and distribution equivalent of saturation bombing. If you can't charm
consumers into taking part, you have to beat them to death until they
Whatever, I imagine that every penny of that marketing spend will stick
in the throats of Kay and Martyn Tott. It may also stick in the throats
of consumers who, judging by Camelot's sales, don't have much time for
the lottery either.
But why? Is it wear-out with the concept of the lottery? Are people so
confused by the range of games on offer that they can't be bothered? Or
is there a lingering anti-Camelot feeling, despite its surprising
triumph against the self-appointed People's Champion? If there is an
element of truth in any of these, then increasing marketing and
advertising - let alone doubling it - may not prove an effective
It is against this background that the latest WCRS campaign for Camelot
launched last week. On TV and radio, it features three real-life winners
and what they did with the money. One pounds 4 million winner, devoted
to his local football team, bought the club. This little story
demonstrates the truism that when it comes to football, a fool and his
money are soon parted and tears soon follow - a message that could be
seen to undermine the whole point of winning. Two other ads bypass this
trap. In one, Roger the chef buys the restaurant he once worked in. In
the other a fishing nut builds a lake in his garden. Each ends with the
line "What would you do if you won this Saturday?", an effective trigger
(although not a subtle one) for the fantasy list-making we all indulge
in from time to time.
As a strategy, I'm sure this makes sense. The one thing the National
Lottery needs is some likeability or, failing that, winners who are
The sight of other people winning millions isn't necessarily endearing,
especially if they blow it on fast cars, fast living and nouveau-style
16-bedroom mansions with white carpets, double garages and tractor
The sight of someone indulging their passion, especially something
eccentric or harmless like fishing or football, is altogether more
In each case, the winners are ordinary blokes and the money clearly
hasn't gone to their heads. That may be enough to restore the somewhat
tatty image of the lottery, but whether it makes enough people want to
play again, I'm not sure. When it comes to that, I think there's only
one button to push: greed.
Dead cert for a Pencil? Oh come on.
Will it work? For likeability, yes. For sales, no.
What would the chairman's wife say? Football? Fishing? That's blokes'
stuff. Don't women win?