Can the ‘Health Lottery’ succeed where others have failed?

News that Delaney Lund Knox Warren is tipped to win the advertising account for a new lottery game, dubbed the “Health Lottery” (MW last week), has led some to speculate on the potential of any lottery-style game in a market so dominated by Camelot’s National Lottery.

The enterprise is headed by former Camelot marketer Ian Milligan, whom acquaintances say is a knowledgeable operator familiar to the industry, but that the odds seem stacked against him. Milligan is being very secretive about the new venture, and insiders say the doors of his office do not even state the name of his plc. It is understood that the new game will be lottery-based, with a portion of profits donated to health-related charitable causes.

As Ian Pearman, managing director of Camelot ad agency Abbot Mead Vickers.BBDO, says/ “Another lottery has yet to succeed or get any traction at all. New launches fall over because they don’t get critical mass.”

Breaking Camelot’s monopoly
Milligan, who was also commercial director of Million-2-1, which operates prize competitions and regional lotteries, brings experience, yet there remain doubts about the chance of any such game against the might of Camelot.

After all, many have tried before and failed. Just this year BingoLotto, a hybrid lottery game show based on a successful Swedish version, launched and closed within six weeks. Despite being broadcast on primetime digital channel Virgin 1, and fronted by celebrities Joe Pasquale and Suzanne Shaw, it is thought poor ticket sales caused it to close in April, although a September relaunch was mooted (MW April 10).

The Monday Lottery, launched by former Camelot chief executive Tim Holley, struggled almost immediately after its launch in 2006. After spending millions on advertising, the competition sold so few tickets that within weeks it admitted it was “in crisis”. It limped on for several months before closing in 2007.

Lotteries and the NHS
The NHS Loto was launched in 1988 and folded in 1996 after a court battle over its registration status. It was also subject to a raft of hostility from political commentators unhappy at the NHS being funded by a route other than taxes.

While Milligan’s Health Lottery is believed to be directing money to health-related charitable causes rather than the NHS, Pearman feels the issue remains a thorny one. “The fact this new game has a specific cause may help it a bit – it distinguishes it,” he says. “But it will have to be called something other than the ’Health Lottery’,” which he says is reminiscent of headlines surrounding so-called postcode prescribing of NHS services and ripe to attract bad PR. Perhaps such concerns are why the company, initially registered as Health Lottery Ltd, has changed its name to Altala Group.

Yet, while specific good causes may help identify a brand and reduce players’ likelihood to drop out, research repeatedly shows the principle reason for playing is simple – players hope to win huge amounts of money.

Adam & Eve founding partner David Golding says that although the success of any lottery is said to be based on the size of its jackpot, that is not the only reason. Golding, who worked on Camelot’s advertising when it was helped by WCRS, points also to ease of playing, the number of draws and reasonably high odds of winning. He says: “If those things are in place, this could turn out to be quite an attractive option.”

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