By Nora FitzGerald
WASHINGTON, D.C.–It took more than luck for Baltimore-based Eisner & Associates to wrest away the $12.5 million Maryland Lottery account last week from its agency of 15 years, Trahan, Burden & Charles, also of Baltimore. It took a lot of sweat and a 7 percent drop in lottery ticket sales since last year.
‘We put forth an incredible team effort,’ said Steve Eisner, principal of Eisner. ‘There was an attitude from the start; we called it ‘Operation Win.’ We worked with the prospect as if they were a client for six months, and traveled in teams across the state’ talking to focus groups of lottery players and potential participants.
Auburn Bell, head of the lottery’s selection committee, called Eisner the ‘apparent’ winner since the Board of Public Works still has to approve the group’s choice. Sources said that historically the board approves the agency without much ado.
‘Eisner’s win was because of what they presented in terms of creativity and strategic assessment of the lottery combined with overall price,’ Bell said. ‘We chose them because we’ve got a big year ahead of us in terms of the revenue we need to generate right now.’
‘It was a grueling process,’ Bell said of the review. Four finalists–Gray, Kirk Vansant, Richardson Myers & Donofrio, Eisner and longtime incumbent TB&C all made presentations on the same day. ‘There were two sides to the evaluation,’ said Bell. ‘First, the historical reel and management summary about where they can take our business. The other side (was) a 90-minute oral presentation.’
There was also the financial aspect of the evaluation, which caused some controversy when the lottery sent out an amended offer after initially forwarding the request for proposal. In the amendment, the agency is paid a fee based only on the $10 million media budget, not on the additional $2.5 million in production costs. Some shops decided not to pursue the account at that time. TB&C was paid a fee based on a full $12 million budget, Bell acknowledged.
Eisner has been offered a three-year contract with two one-year extensions at the lottery’s discretion. The agency will be swamped with assignments immediately; May is the kickoff month for the lottery’s 25th anniversary and new rollouts of keno and scratch games are in the works.
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