Will California Lottery Review Be Open and Fair?

The ongoing review for California’s four-year, $100 million state lottery campaign has stirred confusion and anxiety among participating agencies.

At issue are two stipulations that seem to buck established protocols. The state has indicated that only one agency from each parent organization can pitch. In addition, the rules suggest media agencies are allowed to partner with only one creative shop.

Sources said the rules seem to favor the incumbent, Grey LA, which has no competing agencies under its corporate umbrella, and its sister media agency, MediaCom.

The controversy stems from vaguely worded guidelines circulated by the state after the bidder’s conference in October. The document leaves open the possibility that the state will determine the validity of bids on a case-by-case basis.

“I don’t understand how this is in the best interest of the state,” said John Barnes, managing director of Carat Los Angeles, which has teamed with Butler, Shine & Stern in Sausalito, Calif. He added that he hoped the review would be “open and fair.”

Last week, lottery officials announced finalists: Grey Global Group’s Grey; Butler, Shine & Stern; Omnicom Group’s DDB in Los Angeles and TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco; and Interpublic’s Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco.

The new stipulations would seem to preclude the possibility of TBWA\ C\D and DDB both reaching the finals. They have the same parent, and both use OMD for media buying.

One source also questioned whether Initiative Media can partner with FCB since its subsidiary, Initiative Partners, pitched with Glass/McClure, Sacramento. G/M did not make the cut.

G/M president Greg Glass said, “It would have been a gray area, and had I known [Initiative was also pitching], I probably would have gone with another firm.”

Representatives at Initiative, TBWA\C\D, Grey and the lottery could not be reached.

Presentations will be held Dec. 12-14 at the agencies. A decision is expected Dec. 21