Two weeks ago, the fiscal 1994 budget for the Commonwealth signed into law by Gov. William Weld slashed the Lottery's ad appropriation from $11.6 to $3.6 million. That money is split between Boston agencies Arnold Fortuna Lawner & Cabot and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos. AFL&C handles advertising for jackpot games like Megabucks and Mass Millions while HHCC handles advertising for Instant Games and other projects.
Lottery executive director Eric Turner said last week he is pleased that more ad money may be coming his way but added he is unhappy about two provisions contained within the supplement.
One provision would prohibit sending direct-mail pieces to zip codes in which the median household income is less than $25,000 and the other would prohibit advertising any game which posts declining sales for two consecutive fiscal years.
Turner blasted both provisions. 'My concern is that it's micro-management of the Lottery. And it was done without any consultation (of Lottery officials).'
Turner indicated that the zip-codes provision affects about 100,000 of the two million households that receive free-play coupons designed by HHCC. 'It's a kind of discrimination, saying (one group) can get something in the mail but (another group) can't,' Turner said.
The second provision is more troubling, he said, because the only game it affects is Megabucks.
'If you don't advertise Megabucks (when the jackpots surpass $10 million) you'll see an even bigger drop off in sales,' Turner said.
AFL&C chairman Ed Eskandarian acknowledged that the supplementary budget money will help, but echoed Turner's sentiments. 'How the Lottery's marketed really ought to be left up to the Lottery and kept out of the legislature,' Eskandarian said.
Barring AFL&C from advertising Megabucks is seen by some as a way for Senate Democrats to make HHCC top-dog again on the account, as it was for a decade before the Republican Weld Administration took power.
Sources in both advertising and state government say the Lottery budget has become a political football between Senate President William Bulger and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Thomas F. Birmingham, both Democrats, and State Treasurer and Lottery Commission Chairman Joe Malone, a Republican.
Those in the know say the original Lottery budget cuts and the language in the supplement are designed to dilute Malone's control over the Lottery.
Neither Bulger nor Birmingham's offices returned calls.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)