Here we go again. Yet another campaign for The National Lottery (TNL), and it stinks. This has been going on for years, of course. If you can stand to, cast your mind back to any TNL marketing, branding or advertising and tell me whether you can recall anything good, or even creatively interesting. Actually, don't bother because you can't.
The first work for TNL is actually the stuff that most readily springs to mind - which says something about the quality of the subsequent work. I'm sure you'll remember that big finger, floating around low-rent neighbourhoods before selecting some unlikely sap, pointing them out and saying 'It's You!'. Yes, well that received a right slating, largely because it gave the impression that winning the lottery was quite likely. Which it isn't. In fact, you have a better chance of picking up the phone, dialling a random number and getting through to Buckingham Palace, than you do of bagging the jackpot. So that original strapline was replaced with 'It Could Be You!'. Which, in a rather unconvincing way, is true I suppose. The pointy finger was also switched for two crossed fingers and a smiley face, which didn't really help either.
"We've been served another heap of tripe."
And so, with almost twenty years to get it right, we're still no closer to a reasonable TNL campaign. Last year we were presented with the worst effort to date (which I wrote about for the CP Magazine). For no good reason Gilbert O Sullivan's hit 'Wakka Doo Wakka Day' was purloined and re-sung, to give us a string of 'ordinary' people warbling "I got me ticket / I hope I win it / Singing ooh wakka do whadda day." I know, brilliant isn't it?
Understandably, that's all been scrapped now. Less understandably, we've been served with another heap of tripe. Here's the big line: 'Play Makes It Possible'. This allows TNL to state some glorious fact about their terrible-odds game (which now costs twice as much as it did at launch), and add that phrase as a rejoinder. For instance "Last year we raised xx millions for good causes. Play makes it possible."
But what kind of cheap blackmail is that? What they're actually saying is, if you don't take part in our shabby tax on hope, there'll be nothing for all those lovely charities. When they repeat the exercise, but quote a jackpot in place of money raised, it gets even worse. 'Play this thing, or there'll be no cash prizes any more', they appear to be yelling in our faces. 'If this goes down the pan' they add 'It'll all be your fault'.
As with all bad advertising, this work speaks to the target audience as if they were children. Explaining how a lottery works, as though everyone was completely clueless. We pay the money in, and that's the money the winner gets, you say? Well, blow me down.
Handily, they fail to run an execution describing how play makes Camelot's profits possible.
Perhaps a decent ad for TNL is an impossibility; a brief too far that can never be answered without resorting to the most banal and tacky of solutions. Either way, I never play the lottery and, on the strength of all those hopeless campaigns, it's safe bet I never will.
Magnus Shaw is a copywriter, blogger and consultant.