Eisner Beams Aliens to TVs for Maryland Lottery

Three aliens with tuber fingers interrogate an off-camera “earthling.” A subtitle, “Talk,” flickers across the screen. One alien then holds up a $10 scratch ticket. “Explain this!”

The explanation is: “2001: A Cash Odyssey,” the first television spot in Eisner Communications’ new campaign for the Maryland Lottery.

The ad ends with a long shot of a spacecraft hovering over a moonlit field. The bottom hatch opens and the “earthling,” a cow, is dropped back into a pasture. Another cow asks (in subtitles), “Did you tell them anything?”

The 30-second spot, a parody of the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, will air through year’s end on in-state broadcasts. A radio component is also part of the campaign.

The Baltimore agency’s upcoming efforts include branding spots featuring quirky Marylanders and a “Scratch Cam” series in which video cameras, set up at retailers, chronicle the rituals consumers perform when buying lottery tickets.

The budget for the year-long campaign, which will include point-of- sale and other out-of-home media throughout the state, is $4 million.

Momi Antonio, an agency designer, created the $10 “alien” ticket. “Using a science fiction motif made sense,” said Eisner art director Scott Margolis.

Directed by Jonathan Lindauer of Fuel in Los Angeles, the “Cash Odyssey” television commercial is, with the exception of the cow sequence, computer generated.

“We came up with this idea during the SAG strike,” said Margolis. “The cows are real, but everything else is pure pixels.”

Animated by Wayne England of Spatial Harmonics in Los Angeles, the process took six weeks.

Sales of scratch tickets are strongest during the holidays, according to Jill Baer, assistant deputy director of marketing at the Maryland Lottery. Revenue jumps from $4 million to $5 million a week.

Eisner’s design of last year’s millennium ticket helped generate a28 percent revenue increase.

“[That] was the highest increase in instant ticket sales in the nation,” said Eisner senior vice president David Blum.