Camelot planning charm offensive to disarm critics

National Lottery: Advertising campaign will attempt to create a worthier image after a controversial first 12 months
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The National Lottery organiser, Camelot, is preparing to celebrate its first anniversary with an advertising campaign concentrating on good causes that have benefited.

As the lottery came under further attack this week, Camelot's directors were putting the finishing touches to a marketing onslaught designed to enhance public perception of the game and emphasise the benefits that it brings.

A Camelot subsidiary will launch a merchandising line of lottery products, including key-rings, cuff links, computer software and earrings, and a series of pounds 2 scratch-cards will be specially launched for Christmas.

In its first year, the lottery will have generated pounds 5bn in sales, of which Camelot is entitled to 1.65 per cent for costs and profit. In peak weeks, 30 million people are estimated to play.

The man behind the PR strategy is David Rigg, director of communications. "Within a few weeks of launching we had a 90 per cent unprompted recognition of the lottery logo," Mr Rigg said. "But it is a huge amount of work. Last month alone, there were 800 articles on the lottery, and I've done 350 television interviews and 500 radio interviews this year."

The advertising campaign kicked off with the motto "It could be you", created by Saatchi and Saatchi - veiling the 1 in 14 million chance of winning the jackpot in simple optimism. Three years of market research had shown that the public did not want advertisements telling them how to spend their money, and picturing them on tropical beaches. They were also more interested in the weekly game than scratch-cards.

"What the public responded to was the idea that they could win, and the odds were not against them," Mr Rigg said. "Every time we considered the campaign we tested it against the words simple, easy and fun."

Camelot also leafleted 23 million households in the weeks leading up the launch last November, outlining how to play. The response was phenomenal. The public spent pounds 55,000 on tickets in the first 12 minutes.

Mr Rigg's marketing machinery consists of a PR team, made up of 10 employees who deal with factual inquiries on the lottery; an external PR company; and a public affairs team that handles the more awkward question, including Camelot's vast profits - estimated to be around pounds 500,000 a week.

Tim Holley, chief executive of Camelot, was paid more than pounds 330,000 last year, and all the directors received a one-off bonus salary. The bonuses, which will be repeated this year, were condemned as "astonishing" by Labour MPs.

Mr Rigg faced a PR crisis in the opening weeks of the lottery: the quest to identify the first jackpot winners. Since the lottery was launched only 20 per cent of jackpot winners have agreed to go public, compared to 50 per cent in Ireland.

After weeks of pursuit, the lottery frenzy reached a plateau. The next onslaught came six months later with the launch of scratch-cards, and an ambush of criticism that they encouraged gambling. Although weekly sales have fallen from pounds 44.4m to pounds 25m, the nation is apparently hooked on the quick-fix lottery. Camelot launched its television campaign - "Forget it all for an instant" - because they were targeting people who would make impulse buys.

The latest campaign will attempt to create a worthier image of the lottery. In a series of full-page advertisements in the national press, Camelot will focus on the community projects that have received money.

But the new schemes have already attracted further criticism. Jack Cunningham, Labour's National Heritage spokesman, attacked the idea of Christmas scratch-cards. "Low-income families may be tempted to gamble in desperation rather than spend their money on their families and children," he said.

Selling the lottery

In an average week Britain spends pounds 65m on weekly lottery tickets and pounds 25m on scratch cards.

Camelot has a panel of 2,500 lottery players who give feedback each week.

Britain's top-selling outlet is in Liverpool Street station, London.

Camelot is allowed 1.65 per cent of the total lottery revenue to cover costs and profit.

National Lottery Enterprises (NLE), a Camelot subsidiary, that will sell lottery products, hopes to launch a 'lucky' champagne next year.

Lottery payslip wallets are expected to sell for 30p and lucky lockets, with the lottery logo, for pounds 14.99. The merchandising scheme will also sell T-shirts, sweat shirts, fridge magnets and greeting cards at Woolworths, W H Smith and Tesco, plus other chains.

NLE is also considering a digital Camelot watch that, when pressed, rolls out six numbers for eager punters.