It would take a brave marketer - and a bold agency - for National Lottery to move out of AMV

Jeremy Lee
Jeremy Lee

With the National Lottery pretty much occupying a sector of its own, you can be guaranteed that most agencies in town will be throwing their hats into the ring now that Camelot has put it up for pitch.

At face value it looks a pretty plum account – high profile, of national significance (it had "purpose" hardwired into it even before it became a tedious marketing mantra) and with a marketing budget that is ring-fenced. But for those agencies keen to pre-emptively jump in Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO’s grave, there are many things to consider.

First, AMV has done a pretty decent job in its 15 years on the account – churning out a huge volume of hard-working executions week in, week out to promote what is essentially the same brand message: players could win a prize (of a variable size).  That’s quite a creative challenge.

At the same the National Lottery has embarked on a series of brand extensions – Lotto, Euromillions and scratchcards – that have arguably diluted the original brand proposition that was so succinctly articulated in its launch "It could be you" advertising from Saatchi & Saatchi. Even Camelot itself acknowledges this brand stretch and that it needs to place a greater emphasis on "promoting a more unified and overarching parent brand".

The management team has been in a state of flux – last year its chief executive Andy Duncan left, followed shortly after by its marketing director Sally Cowdry, with a "regime change" at the company. Richard Bateson, who had been deployed elsewhere by Camelot, was parachuted back in as commercial director as its marketing function was upscaled to try and get the brand back on track.

Furthermore, unlike other more classic gambling businesses which have online functions, Camelot doesn’t have the same amount of data on its customers. National Lottery tickets and scratchcards primarily remain an impulse purchase so really segmenting the audience by product is more problematic. How does it solve this conundrum with the growth of digital and social media – another problem it explicitly acknowledges?

And finally the time frame in which agencies are supposed to come up with a strategic and creative solution that ties together all these moving parts and different problems looks challenging. Camelot wants the review over by April. With RFIs due in next week, there’ll be lots of agencies burning the midnight oil over the coming weeks. It'd be a big call to move it out of AMV, which at least has a home advantage. Let battle begin.

Jeremy Lee is a contributing editor at Campaign

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