New Lottery czar Jones cuts ties with Energy BBDO

As we prophetically noted could happen in mid-October when Michael Jones was named the new superintendent of the Illinois Lottery, Energy BBDO/Chicago is being dumped as the ad agency of record for the state-run organization. 

“We have invited every agency in Chicago to pitch for the account, and we want this to be a totally open process,” said Jones, who hopes to have a new agency in place by Jan. 1, 2012.

The Northstar Lottery Group, which manages the Lottery and reports to superintendent Jones, said on Wednesday it is seeking a new creative agency “to reimagine the Lottery brand” and maximize revenue to the state of Illinois.

Michael Jones, recently named Lottery superintendentThe decision to drop Energy BBDO as the Lottery’s agency of record suggests just how much power Jones now wields and how quickly he is moving to remake the Lottery operations and position the Lottery as a more marketing-driven entity — something it has not really been for quite some time.

The departure of Energy BBDO is a particularly uncomfortable development for Northstar to oversee because the ad agency was an integral part of Northstar’s pitch to win the 10-year management contract at the Lottery.  Gtech and Scientific Games also are part of the Northstar consortium.  Both Gtech and Scientific Games also are vendors to the Illinois Lottery.

Initially Jones had intended to be a leader of another consortium pitching for the Lottery private management contract in the summer of 2010. But when Jones was made aware of the onerous details of the Lottery management contract as it was originally presented, he and other members of his consortium opted not to join the pitch for the private management contract.

Subsequently, Jones was publicly critical of the way the pitch was conducteq and of the pitch’s end result that gave Northstar the contract. Many of Jones’s concerns were echoed in a report released several months ago by the Illinois Auditor General.