The year-old Lottery has boosted an already buoyant sales promotion
sector with copycat scratchcards and merchandising spin-offs. David
The consumer database is ripe for a new category. Next to age, socio-
demographics and sex you can now add propensity to greed.
A year after the launch of the National Lottery, the avarice that
expressed itself as the need for designer goods in the 80s has
resurfaced as a lusting after good old-fashioned mountains of cash.
The new popular culture is more egalitarian than that of old. Everyone
can play this dreamers’ game whereas only a select few could enjoy the
80s ‘designer’ decade. The new icons are the more populist queens of
kitsch Anthea Turner and Mystic Meg instead of the understated Terence
Conran and Paul Smith and that, it must be said, is where sales
promotion comes in.
Winner takes it all
Sales promotion has seen a new dawn in less polished prevailing
attitudes. In the past 12 months, the industry has been forced to
reassess its way of doing business as choice of mechanic gets simpler -
run a scratchcard - and the prizes get bigger and bigger.
But it is also leveraging new opportunities as brand owners, once
concerned about the lack of prestige in sales promotion, have begun to
reassess their own attitudes. If the 80s were all about big budget image
advertising then the 90s could be the decade of win, win, win.
Scratchcards are no longer bad for your brand’s health.
‘A lot of clients used to see scratchcard or instant win promotions as
beneath them,’ says Steven Callender, managing director of sales
promotion agency Black Cat. ‘But they are beginning to appreciate that
if two-thirds of the population are playing a game, which is essentially
a promotional technique, then there must be something in it.’
Some sectors, such as newspapers, have always offered some sort of cash
promotion - remember when bingo was all the rage. All they have needed
to do is up the ante and tweak the mechanic (see page 33).
Brewers too have simply been carrying on a long tradition of pub
scratchcard games - although the new prizes are usually a bit better
than the traditional T-shirts and mugs.
Seven Courage brands are currently being promoted by a scratchcard,
offering drinkers the chance to win free beer for a year. The
scratchcard comes with four cans or bottles of brands, including
Foster’s, Holsten Pils and Miller Pilsner and offers runner up prizes of
more than 21,000 free cans of Foster’s.
Brands enter from all angles
But the scratchcard phenomenon, in particular, (Camelot sells around
27million a week) has seen a raft of brand players entering the market
from sectors as diverse as financial services, retail and travel firms.
A pair of high-street banks are tapping scratchcard fever to target
students. Both Midland and Barclays are offering cash prizes to
encourage students to open accounts. To claim the money, winners need to
be customers already or have to open an account to claim their prize.
‘It’s a means of boosting Midland’s profile,’ says a spokesman for the
bank. ‘Scratchcards are a bit of a trend at the moment and we thought it
would be fun to launch one.’
Thomas Cook, meanwhile, gave away an instant win scratchcard over the
summer offering extra travellers cheques and Granada Services ran a
programme in conjunction with The Gladiators TV show.
Scratchcards have been around in the UK since the early 70s, and were
initially used purely as a lottery device for local councils, football
clubs and charities before being adopted by the sales promotion industry
a decade later, and being made more sophisticated.
Manufacturer Opax International claims to have introduced the medium
into the UK in 1972 and says the scratchcard industry has come full
circle with a lottery once again setting the agenda.
Back on the bandwagon
Opax UK sales director, Bob Venters claims that the company’s business
from brand owners this year has grown by around 30% as they scramble to
jump back on the bandwagon. Promotions, such as Esso’s Drive Time have
gone into print runs of up to 100 million cards.
‘Despite the numbers getting involved, they are still all largely
successful,’ says Venters. ‘There doesn’t seem to be any signs of it
wearing off on the public. We have a lot of enquiries for projects
running into next year.’
It’s not just new brand owners that are getting involved in promotions
since the launch of the Lottery, but also new consumers. The Henley
Centre suggests that the Lottery has created 10 million new gamblers,
many of whom are also feeding their addictions through promotions at the
‘The Lottery has rekindled interest in promotions, which had been
beginning to waiver,’ says managing director of agency Fox Clark,
Stephen Fox. ‘The consumer is looking for promotions and getting more
The growth in mass participation is likely to be coming from the fringes
of sales promotion’s traditional heartland at the lower end of the
social scale. Take a look at the profile of an average Lottery player
(see box) and, putting it politely, you are hardly presented with an
‘But it surprises me if anyone should condemn that,’ says Clark. ‘Sales
promotion has always been treated badly by marketers, who think that the
people who get involved are downmarket. But there are more of us
becoming the ‘man on the street’ all the time.
‘The success of the Lottery is a symptom of our times. It identifies a
malaise in this country of ‘Is there a way out?’ You have to ask, would
the Lottery have been such a success if we weren’t in recession. In
1986, I didn’t want a way out, I wanted this to go on forever.’
Evidence would seem to suggest that in this new age of avarice, the the
bigger the prize the greater the appeal for consumers. In response to
concerns over the ‘obscene’ payouts of the Lottery from organisations as
far and wide as the church and the Labour Party, Camelot has repeatedly
intoned that bigger prizes attract more players (with the sugar coating
of more cash going to good causes, of course).
The Lottery hit its peak in June, when a rollover jackpot offered a
pounds 22m prize. That week drew an astonishing 72.2 million entries.
The National Bingo game, meanwhile, has increased its prize to pounds 1m
for the first time, while the government-owned National Savings has seen
a big uptake after raising its top prize to pounds 1m. More bonds were
sold in the past 18 months than in the past decade.
TV quiz shows meanwhile have turned their backs on the delights of
cuddly toys and teasmaids for the more exciting prospect of a free house
worth ‘a staggering blah blah blah’. Such unashamed tack hasn’t been
seen since Jim Bowen handed out crisp fivers to winners on the set of
Marketers will need to take note if they are to cut through the clutter
and make any kind of real impact with a sales promotion of their own.
‘The Lottery is setting a new standard,’ says Graham Griffiths, general
manager of Promotional Campaigns, which produced the Barclays
‘It used to be that the Pedigree car in a can was as big as it gets but
we’re in a different league now. The consumer doesn’t differentiate
between a scratchcard from a lottery company and a scratchcard from a
brand owner. They just see the prize.’
To illustrate the point, Griffiths points to Lurpack, which a few years
ago ran an on-pack promotion offering ‘Olympic’ medals. Last year, the
brand offered cash prizes of pounds 1000 instead but, says Griffiths,
even that is now too low to make any real impact.
‘We couldn’t get away with the medals promotion today and I’d now think
twice about going to market with offers of pounds 1000.’
Fox at Fox Clark recently ran a promotion for a retail client offering a
car but spent time soul searching to decide whether or not a car seemed
a waste of time when pounds 20m was on offer from Camelot.
He ultimately ran the campaign. ‘It doesn’t have to be on a par with the
Lottery but you can’t offer garbage,’ he says.
Probably one of the most high-profile exercises in tapping the Lottery
inspired imagination has been the Walkers Crisps Instant Cheque Giveaway
promotion, which ran over the summer.
The promotion which gave away cash prizes in little blue bags even
prompted the Sunday Times to run a feature on who legally owns the money
if you buy the packet of crisps for a friend. (In case you were
wondering, it belongs to the friend).
The Walkers promotion at the start of the year gave away cheques up to
the value of pounds 10,000 and were pushed in the BMP DDB Needham Gary
Lineker TV campaign. It was followed up by the pounds 3m ‘Dial a Prize’
over the summer which offered a similar sum through a similar mechanic.
All far removed from the promotions of crisps past.
‘Instant win promotions have proved tremendously effective for the
Walkers brands,’ says Walkers brand manager for crisps, Ted Linehan. The
Dial-a-Prize promotion raised market share for Walkers Crisps to a
record high of 50% and to 72% in the impulse sector.
It’s a strategic move to encourage consumers to constantly retrial.’
According to IRI Infoscan, market share during the Instant Cheque
Promotion grew by 11%.
‘The multi-million pound wins associated with the National Lottery,
though, has made it necessary to create a constant stream of fresh
promotional mechanics. That’s why we’ve built in aspects, such as
instant cheques or personal delivery teams, to our prizes,’ says
Current promotions from Walkers, however, spread the prize money about,
instead of the pounds 100,000 top prize offered last year because, says
a spokesman, better odds give better results. Calender from Black Cat
wouldn’t be surprised and says that in focus groups, consumers tend to
react better when they know there are better chances of winning. ‘People
like the opportunity to win smaller prizes as well. They like the odds
to be better unless it’s the mega, mega prize’.
The trends show a decline over the past few months in sales of Camelot
scratchcards. Volumes have fallen by around 25% from pounds 44m to as
low as pounds 33.2m - a trend it hopes to reverse with an Instants game
show being developed with the BBC.
But does the decline suggest that the renaissance in sales promotion has
peaked as well? It seems unlikely. The irresistible power of the Lottery
can’t be denied. Superdrug ripped out National Lottery kiosks earlier in
the year because they were causing congestion but replaced them with its
own scratchcard in September. The Beauty Spot Scratchcards offer nearly
pounds 1m in prizes, including far-flung holidays for two.
Calender adds. ‘Sales promotion was riding the crest of a wave anyway -
what the Lottery has done is make that wave bigger. The instant win
promotion was already growing although clients are now looking at it
with slightly fresher eyes.’
Anatomy of a Lottery Player
The UK has achieved the highest percentage of regular players of any
Lottery launched in the past 20 years. Ten million new gamblers have
been created overnight with more than 58% of the nation playing every
week and buying at least two tickets each. The outlay is the equivalent
of 0.5% of disposable income or 5% of personal savings.
Lottery stores have seen their sales rise by up to 20%. According to the
Henley Centre, the hard core Lottery players are likely to:
be aged between 25 and 34 (81% play the Lottery)
earn between pounds 9,500 and pounds 15,500 (72% play the Lottery)
live in Scotland (81% of Scots play)
like a flutter on the horses (91% play the Lottery)
read a tabloid newspaper (82% play the Lottery)
watch more than 29 hours of TV a week (76% play the Lottery)