Is the Lottery finalist assignment Grinch-like?

The five agencies left in the running for the Illinois Lottery advertising account have gotten the assignment from the Lottery private manager Northstar Lottery Group that all will present in their final pitches for the account in early January. 

And it is a fairly complex assignment, which, based on sources we have talked to, has caused some grumbling within the ranks of the handful of shops competing for the account.

Why the grousing?  Well, some don’t like the fact they are being asked to do a considerable amount of work in a compressed time frame.

But perhaps more to the point, several are upset that they are being asked to complete this work over the holiday season, when many — well almost all shops — in the Chicago market typically shut down almost completely from just before Christmas until after the New Year holiday.

Party, party, you know.

We wouldn’t necessarily say all agencies have become accustomed to a country club-like existence in this town, but clearly, when some of them are asked to possibly forego their substantial year-end downtime, it doesn’t engender cheery thoughts all around.

Assignment: Pull in more Lottery players

So what is that assignment the agencies must prepare pronto?  The brief each of the five semifinalist shops was given said: “Weakness of the (Illinois Lottery) brand is impeding growth.  Only 41 percent believe that Illinois Lottery is for ‘people like them’.”

The ad shops will also be expected to determine which type of media will work best to reach a mass adult audience and use “highly respected media vehicles as a platform to communicate Lottery’s brand message,” according to the brief.

Furthermore, the winning agency will be expected to “generate high awareness for launch (of campaign) and sustain communication to keep brand campaign momentum.”

So, in a nutshell, the agencies are being asked to come up with a high-profile campaign to strengthen the Lottery’s appeal to consumers and pull in considerably more players of various Lottery games.

it’s a fairly tall order, and some agency executives say, even with time tight, they intend to go out and conduct research to ensure their respective campaigns are grounded in the right reality.

That will take time and resources to do right.  But executives we talked to say the money the Lottery intends to put behind the winning campaign — a production budget of $850,000 — will suffice to get the job done.

For the record again, the five Chicago shops still in the race for the Illinois Lottery ad account are: DDB; DraftFCB: Downtown Partners; Element 79 and Young & Rubicam.

The winnng agency will be announced in late January. The first Lottery campaign from the winning shop is expected to launch Monday, Feb. 6.

Contact Lewis Lazare at