Calif. Lottery Gives People A Reason To Believe

California-Lottery-BYou can’t win the lottery, the old marketing phrase went, if you don’t play. And you’re not going to play, if you don’t “believe.”

The simple word (and the feeling of optimism it imparts) is the tag for the California Lottery’s addition of Powerball to its array of games next week. With only about a third of consumers saying they had a positive feeling when it came to the California Lottery, the brand and its agency, David&Goliath, felt they needed to move beyond the typical lottery advertising of wealth and riches. 

“We wanted a different, honest and optimistic approach to launching Powerball -- one that inspires people to believe in possibilities,” David Angelo, the agency’s founder and chief creative officer, tells Marketing Daily. “[Optimism] is what the Powerball brand stands for, and California is a brand that’s about optimism as well.”

In a new filmed commercial (running on television, in cinema and online), the agency retooled the popular Mamas & the Papas song, “California Dreamin’,” into a choral arrangement, playing as countless white lottery balls fall from the sky (sometimes against iconic backgrounds such as the Golden Gate Bridge). While some look agape at the sky, others interact with the deluge (such as doing a cannonball into a pool covered in white balls). At the end of the spot, a single red ball falls into a man’s hand, indicating he has won the jackpot. “Believe in something bigger,” reads onscreen text.

“It’s one of the most iconic California songs there is,” Angelo says of the song. “It has that optimistic feel to it, and you start to feel a little better.”

Outdoor advertising is a bit bolder. During a two-week pre-launch, the agency paired the “Believe” message (spelled in lottery balls, with the final “e” on a red ball) with iconic images and movements (such as women’s suffrage, the moon landing, a one-armed teenager surfing). Newer ads, timed to the inclusion of California into Powerball’s mix, is more winning-focused, with headlines such as “L.A. doesn’t have a football team. Fix that.” 

“It’s talking to people in a language they understand,” Angelo says. “All Angelenos understand we’re in need of a football team, and it inspires people to believe in something bigger.”

Speaking of bigger, the agency took the message to the streets, pairing with artist Kurt Perschke to place gigantic red balls in places around California. (The final ball will appear at the official Powerball launch part in Sacramento next week.) The agency also created a Web site (accompanied by the choral song), through which people can post their dreams (which are represented by falling lottery balls), to start a conversation about believing in something bigger. 

“It’s all about shared optimism,” Angelo says. “We’re encouraging people to be part of this big California dream.”

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