Lottery Ads Ask: Why Risk Life and Limb?

LOS ANGELES There are easier ways to win $1 million than taking dangerous bets that involve vaulting over cars and performing daredevil bicycle stunts.

That’s the theme of breaking television spots for the Washington State Lottery from Publicis in Seattle. The commercials star a pair of longtime buddies (one a jock, the other a nerd) who participate in a humorous round of such competitions.

The nerd accepts each dare, but never wins the $1 million. Had he played the lottery’s Scratch games, he would have had at least a fighting chance, the ads suggest.

All spots end with this voiceover: “Want a real chance to earn big money? Play Scratch. Over $36 million in cash prizes.”

“We had to let people know [they] can win a lot of money winning [the lottery game] Scratch,” said Rob Rich, creative director at the agency. “And it’s true: A $20 Scratch [ticket] can win a million.”

The agency has turned its lottery account into something of a creative showpiece in recent years, scoring One Show silver Pencils, various Clio and New York Art Directors Club awards and a Gold Effie. Perhaps its best performance has been at the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries competition, where the campaign has won the Best of the Batch award three of the last four years.

“Our lottery story has helped us attract clients outside of Washington,” said Rich. “We built a brand at every point of contact.”

The lottery relationship is unusual, Rich said. Efforts include developing a game for the lottery commission, renaming the lottery itself and redesigning in-store ticket machines “to reflect a modern brand,” he said.