A Deserted Small Town Is Not What It Appears in This Magical New York Lottery Ad

Ghostly suspense gives way to a simple explanation

Playing the lottery is all about chasing a fantasy. And a new ad for the New York Lottery’s Cash4Life scratch-off game offers a delightful little vignette from one man’s unexpected dream.

In the :60, created by McCann New York, a swing set squeaks on an abandoned playground in an unnamed small town. The streets are deserted. The lights are on inside a mysterious house, but the porch bulb flickers ominously. A car sits empty at an intersection, door open and brake lights aglow.

There’s a little local music shop, and a desolate downtown, with graffiti scrawled on a security gate—under another flickering light, this time fluorescent. Railroad crossing bells fire in the distance, edging their way into the suspenseful orchestral score.

The camera slowly zooms in on the flashing stoplight.

Spoilers below.

Suddenly, without any warning, a giant hand comes out of the sky and gently places a train on the track. The perspective cuts back to reveal a middle-aged man building a model train set. The small town, ghostly as it may have seemed, is but a toy.

“I’d spend more time being a kid again,” says Paul S. of Jamesville in an onscreen quote explaining the scene.

It’s a sweet and heartfelt sentiment. That’s a contrast to most lottery ads, which tend to rely on over-the-top comedy. Even McCann’s spot from the same campaign last year, for example, leaned into the sight gag of a grown man bounding gleefully—oafishly, even—through a park with a pack of dogs in slow-motion. That particular winner, it turned out, was using his free time to volunteer at a pet shelter.

That said, the new spot, titled “Small Town” and directed by Noam Murro, also doesn’t take itself too seriously. Instead, the foreboding horror-movie tone turns out to be quite innocent, if perhaps a little eccentric. That just drives home the point that if you won the lottery, you might surprise everyone with how you spent your fortune. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to worry about it—because you will not win the lottery.

And it’s still hard not to expect Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice to pop out of the miniature ground at any moment and start gesticulating crudely.

Client: New York Lottery

Creative Agency: McCann New York
Eric Silver, North American Chief Creative Officer
Sean Bryan & Tom Murphy, McCann New York Chief Creative Officers
Mat Bisher & Dan Donovan, Executive Creative Directors
Jason Ashlock & Dominick Baccollo, Creative Directors
Johan Leandersson, Senior Art Director
Andy Sciamanna, Senior Copywriter
Nathy Aviram, Chief Production Officer
Chance Bassett, VP Senior Producer
Eric David Johnson, SVP Executive Music Producer
Dan Gross, Music Producer
Natalie Hernandez, Business Manager
Scot Beck, Executive Account Director
Caroline Fuller, VP Account Director
Molly Vossler, Account Supervisor
Ellery Gitkin, Assistant Account Executive
Courtney Snead, Project Manager
Laura Frank, VP Strategy Director

Production Company: Biscuit
Noam Murro, Director
Jeff McDougall, Executive Producer
Charlotte Woodhead, Producer

Editorial: Work Editorial
Neil Smith, Editor
Theo Mercado, Assistant Editor
Erica Thompson, Executive Producer
Christopher Delarenal, Producer

Conform/VFX: MPC NY
Camila De Biaggi, Managing Director
Elissa Norman, Senior Producer
Alvin Cruz, Creative Director/VFX Supervisor
Marcus Wood, 3D/2D Lead:
Renato Carone, Michael Glen, Steinar Nedrebø, Amit Shukla, Manu PS, Joslin Job Mathew, Sriram P, Suhas Bjat, R Vignesh, Priyanka Day, 2D Team
Suhas Bhat, Sindhuja B, Sravan Kumar, Sreenivasa Aditya Yanamalachintala, Elangovan Ganeshan, 3D Team

Music: Future Perfect
Composer: Victor Magro
Producer: John Connolly

Audio Mix: Phil Loeb @ Heard City

Telecine: Tom Poole @ Co3

Other Agencies:
Momentum – Point of Sale
UM – Media

@GabrielBeltrone gabriel.beltrone@gmail.com Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.