Lottery Seeks Input, Defends Practices

LOS ANGELES The California Lottery has issued a letter to ad agencies that participated in its previous reviews, asking for feedback on its prior request for proposal documents and defending its selection process.

The letter, which was sent out earlier this month from lottery director of marketing Jim Hasegawa, asks shops to review past RFPs and inform the lottery if there were any requirements that were “extremely burdensome, time consuming, unclear or not relevant.”

In the letter, Hasegawa said that while agencies have read articles in the trade press about the review, he “would like to tell our side of the story on what happened in the past, solicit your input about our prior RFPs and encourage you to participate in our upcoming agency review.” The lottery is expected to issue a new proposal request in late summer or early fall.

Hasegawa defended the lottery’s decision to disqualify an agency that failed to disclose individuals that have a financial interest in the shop, citing a voter-approved initiative that stipulates strict disclosure requirements of companies that do business with the lottery. He also said that while shops might perceive that “process” is more important than “substance,” the lottery’s selection criteria is similar to that of other consumer products companies.

The lottery is looking for an agency with “strong strategic thinking towards its business; innovative creative that is on strategy; and inventive media planning and media buying that can stretch budgets,” according to the letter.

The lottery’s ad agency search has stretched on for nearly two years. DDB in Los Angeles was initially declared the winner in a review that concluded at the end of 2001, but following protests by the incumbent, Grey in Los Angeles, which claimed that DDB failed to disclose information about its officers, the account was put back in review. Foote, Cone & Belding was selected in a review that ended in August 2002, but DDB filed a protest about media costs submitted by FCB and its partner in the pitch, Initiative Media in Los Angeles. The lottery then asked agencies to rebid the media portion of the account. McCann-Erickson was named the winner of the five-year, $125 million account, but the lottery overturned that decision after the shop failed to disclose information about parent company Interpublic Group and other McCann offices in the U.S.