Camelot received the biggest marketing boost in its history last week just days after winning the licence to run the National Lottery for another ten years.
Postal worker Angela Kelly from East Kilbride scooped £35m on EuroMillions – the UK’s biggest lottery payout, almost double the previous top jackpot of £22m in 1995 – providing Camelot with a rare marketing opportunity.
A massive spike in ticket sales has followed the blanket coverage of her good fortune on television and newspaper front pages. Only one in six National Lottery jackpot winners opts for publicity, but every time news of a winner hits the media sales boom. Camelot is not allowed to encourage winners to pursue publicity, which means its greatest marketing tool is beyond its control.
Betfair brand director Oscar Nieboer says publicising those who scoop jackpots fuels “winner belief”. He adds: “Fuelling winner belief becomes more important as chances of winning and your ability to successfully predict the outcome de-creases. That’s why you see a lot of it in lottery marketing but less in poker and other skill-oriented formats.”
It is notable that the overwhelming majority of named National Lottery winners live far outside London and the Home Counties, have working class jobs and are often over the age of 50. Some believe this demonstrates that the game is played predominantly by lower income people in older age groups and adds to the impression that the lottery is a “tax” on the poor.
The benefits of publicity
But a Camelot spokesman says: “The further away you are from London and the less money you have, the more likely you are to tick the publicity box because you are less able to disguise the win. The key benefit of ticking publicity is that Camelot manages the news process for you.”
The spokesman insists that the Lottery is played evenly by different income groups, claiming, for example, that 21% of players are from the AB professional social grade, which comprises 22% of the population.
Out of the top ten jackpot winners since 1994, six have opted for media exposure. While many other lottery jurisdictions around the world insist on winners accepting publicity, in the UK players have to actively opt in, says the spokesman.
According to betting shop operator Ladbrokes, the tendency for jackpot winners to shun publicity may be changing. PR manager Robin Hutchison, who is responsible for winner marketing, says: “In recent times, with reality TV programmes, there are more people who want their 15 minutes of fame. With the likes of Simon Cowell getting people seen on television, people are thinking they’d like a bit of the same. Everybody wants to be a star these days.”
The house wins again
When Ted Reid of Aberdeen won £900,000 on a Ladbrokes internet gambling game, the betting company got in touch to ask if he would mind publicising the win, which the hospital porter agreed to do. The ensuing stories in the media and the posters put up in Ladbrokes betting shops led to a 500% increase of sales on that product over the next three weeks, according to Hutchison.
Meanwhile, William Hill insists on publicity for “personal bets”. Ten years ago, nonagenarian Alec Holden placed a bet he would live to be 100, which he won earlier this year scooping £25,000. “Those are the sorts of bets we only take on if they agree to publicity,” says a spokeswoman. She says about half of William Hill’s jackpot winners agree to publicity.
Winner marketing is the most effective way to demonstrate that, however remote the odds may be, scooping the jackpot in a game of chance is a real possibility. Camelot needs to create a virtuous circle of big jackpot winners opting for publicity, fuelling belief and raising sales. This in turn would lead to more and bigger jackpots.