OKRP’s Illinois Lottery spot goes beyond monetary prizes


A new spot from the Illinois Lottery pays tribute to the winning spirit of the people of the State of Illinois, through the story of a family and how they face the trials of everyday life when the mother in the family cannot go home.

The spot was created by the Lottery’s creative agency, O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul and was brought to life by Chicago director Simon Reinert whose wife Shifra, is a nurse at Northwestern Hospital in downtown Chicago and is featured in the ad.

In developing the new work, OKRP Group Creative Director Aubrey Walker was inspired by the story and music behind The Wiz and the search for home. He was thinking about the many healthcare workers who are self-separating from their families and not able to go home, and he thought that showing the sacrifice through one woman’s experience was also a way to reveal the ethos of what it really means to be a winner.

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The team at OKRP knew there were challenges for a shoot amid the limitations of the coronavirus pandemic and sought out a local director.

“One of our producers knew Simon and when we presented him with our idea he knew he could make this work, using his own family,” explained Aubrey Walker. “At the heart of our idea is the notion that when someone can’t come home, they realize they take for granted the familiarity of daily life – a coffee cup or a pillow. Simon incorporated that need for connection in such a visceral moment in the film that the emotions just come to life with honesty and authenticity.”

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The commercial evolved into a docu-inspired, minute-long piece featuring Simon, Shifra, and their young son – all of whom had never acted before — in their own home and work environments. This also allowed the concept to be executed safely, filmed entirely by Simon at home and edited by his production partners at Minimal productions.

“The Illinois Lottery believes in celebrating what winning means, beyond the financial aspects of winning,” explained Harold Mays, Director of the Illinois Lottery. “For those who are sacrificing something or giving back, they are the real winners here in our state and we want to play our part in reminding everyone that there are good people here doing amazing things.”

60-second Illinois Lottery spot

The ad will begin airing early in May on local network broadcast in Illinois. In addition to the 60-second spot, there will also be a 30-second version. It will also air on digital and social channels. 

30-second Illinois Lottery spot

“It was a bit of a roll of the dice on if we could tell a narrative story well, with such large production limitations,” explained Laura Fegley, Chief Creative Officer at OKRP. “But the serendipity of finding a family with an important story to tell, that also happened to have a director in it, sold us.  Ultimately having the director literally connected to the story, made for some truly intimate footage.”

The Illinois Lottery plays an important role within the state in giving back 25% of sales to schools and other causes. 

“At a time of crisis like now, we thought it was important to show that there are ‘winning stories all over Illinois,’ explained Marisa Zimmerman, Senior Director of Marketing at Camelot, the private company that manages the Lottery in partnership with the State. “This campaign highlights the mission of the Illinois Lottery that goes way beyond the monetary prizes awarded and is part of our connection to supporting the people of the State in many ways.”

“This new normal that everyone keeps referring to is allowing us to exercise our problem-solving skills,” says John Condne, Executive Producer at Minimal. “We’re producing like never before, meeting challenges with as much grace and ingenuity as possible. We’re extremely proud of what Simon accomplished with this film and the level of support we showed one another through the process.”