National Lottery ad uses old trick to tug heartstrings

National Lottery ad uses old trick to tug heartstrings

The Background

To get things straight at the outset, I’m not a massive fan of state-franchised lotteries that have come about through government legislation. It’s a political thing for me. In my books they are basically a stealth tax, levied on people that can least afford it, cleverly disguised and marketed to them by the promise of a (minuscule) chance of getting very rich, very quickly. 

With advertising dwelling on extravagant purchases that a big win can buy, along with the constant oxygen of winners’ publicity pictures and stories in the media, punters, predominantly from lower, socio-demographic groups, spend money they can’t really afford held in the vice-like grip of hope that one day it could be them. 

So when Camelot announced a new campaign that it said would show just what a force for good the National Lottery can be for the whole country, I was all anticipation.

The Big Idea

The 'Amazing Starts Here’ campaign, and strapline that was developed, is meant to focus on the National Lottery itself rather than specific games such as EuroMillions or Lotto, and aims to show that it can benefit the lives of ordinary people. 

Hayley Stringfellow, head of brand marketing at Camelot, excitedly described this strategic move as a “fork-in-the-road moment” for the lottery. She added: “when I’ve talked to winners, it struck me that the first thing most people do is secure their homes and homes for their family. It’s about the basics of security, not Champagne and diamonds."

What They Did

Eureka, they then made an ad about, err, someone securing their home. To be fair it is a beautifully shot two-minute film entitled ‘Fisherman’ which is well worth a watch. It tells the story of a working-class Scottish family. The father has to spend a lot of time at sea, working on a trawler, and there are some great scenes of him battling the elements as he goes about his job. However, all this time at sea appears to be putting a strain on his relationship, as the mother is seen telling a friend that she has made a decision, before heading to see a solicitor. This is just after you have seen her pay a quick visit to a newsagent to buy a lottery ticket. The father returns to an empty house, after presumably a long stint on the ocean waves, to find a letter on the mantelpiece. He rushes through the streets to find his partner at the new address she has given in this correspondence. Which it turns out is an idyllic new home that she has bought thanks to the lottery win she had whilst he was sailing the seven seas. Presumably there’s no plaice like home (apologies).

The Review

I’m really not sure how showing someone just going out one day and buying a house, just like that, is too much different from spending the moolah on a yacht, flash car or whatever. A new home feels to me like a pretty extravagant and impulsive purchase. So as for communicating anything too different to what we’ve heard before from how life-changing many sudden millions in your bank account is, I’m just not so sure. 

Granted, a new home is perhaps not as flash or showy as a red Lambo or kitting yourself out head-to-toe in Gucci gear, but it is still not a regular thing to just go out and buy either. So when Stringfellow talked about this being a “fork-in-the-road moment” for the lottery, for me it was more B5086 than M25.

In Hindsight

There’s no doubt that a lottery win turns your life on its head overnight. I think people play the lottery because they want their lives to be transformed. Sure, they want the security that all this new cash brings, but there’s not nearly as much fun in buying security with your winnings or in my opinion showcasing that. 

It almost feels like the National Lottery is being a little too defensive and apologetic about what a big win can bring in this latest creative. Perhaps Hayley Stringfellow should have channeled her ‘inner Stringfellow’, as in Peter, a bit more. He certainly knew how rich people could really properly enjoy spending their money…

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