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Louisiana Lottery's Media Buying Goes Into Play

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Graham Group is defending its $5 million Louisiana Lottery media-buying account as the business moves into a mandatory review.

The Lafayette, La., shop, which has held the account for the last four years, is only the second agency of record to handle media buying for the state lottery. In 1997, Graham won the account from Bauerlein in New Orleans, after the seven-year incumbent failed to make the final cut in a review.

The account is a one-year contract with three single-year renewal options, according to John Carruth, the state lottery's general counsel. In recent years, creative and production assignments have been handled on a project basis.

Interested bidders must have submitted a written notice of intent by Monday, March 12.

Contenders must have maintained an office in Louisiana for the past three years, tally at least $1 million in annual billings and employ at least three full-time staffers.

In addition, interested agencies must also submit examples of previous non-lottery work, as well as two hypothetical media plans: one for an instant product brand campaign and a second for a lotto relaunch effort.

A proposers' conference is scheduled this Thursday, with proposals due April 17. After an evaluation process, a group of finalists will make oral presentations. A winner is expected to be named by May 25; the contract begins June 29.

Like most government contracts, scoring is heavily weighted in favor of the lowest bidder. In the case of the lottery, 50 percent of scoring is based on the cost proposal, 30 percent centers on quality of response and the remaining 20 percent hinges on a post-buy analysis.

Sides and Associates of Lafayette, La., won the creative account in 1997, but that work went in-house when the contract expired in 1998, according to Carruth.

Next year's lottery advertising budget is the same size as during the last review, despite record low ticket sales this year that are expected to dip to $273 million. In January, the lottery unveiled a new $10 scratch-off ticket game aimed at increasing sales. Lottery sales topped $297 million in 1997.