Critical Mass, Downtown Partners Set to Win Illinois Lottery

Account Previously Handled by Energy BBDO

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Omnicom siblings Critical Mass and Downtown Partners are set to pick up advertising duties for the Illinois Lottery.

The account was previously handled by Energy BBDO, which had originally won the Lottery account in 2009. It was put into review in November, less than six months after a private consortium, the Northstar Lottery Group (which included Energy BBDO), took over day-to-day marketing and management as part of a 10-year state contract. The lottery was previously run by the Illinois Department of Revenue, but the state put the management contract up for bid in 2010.

The unexpected move to conduct a review happened about a month after Michael Jones was named superintendent of the Illinois Lottery, the agency that oversees Northstar. Mr. Jones is not new to the Lottery, having run it in the 1980s.

Since Downtown Partners and Critical Mass are also owned by Omnicom, the account essentially stays within the same company. A number of Illinois agencies had been invited to participate in the review, with five making the cut for the second round of the review: Downtown Partners (which partnered with Critical Mass), sibling agencies DDB, Chicago, and Element 79; Interpublic's DraftFCB; and WPP's Y&R , Chicago, which opted out of the review. According to Northstar's website, the decision came down to Downtown Partners and DDB. The Lottery is expected to keep Omnicom's OMD on for media services. Energy BBDO did not participate.

"The caliber of work and strategic thinking we received during this selection process was off the charts impressive," said Jessica Powell, VP-Northstar Lottery Group, in a statement. "We challenged agencies to radically redefine our brand and they delivered."

Mr. Jones said in a statement that the Lottery "looks forward for ways to work closely with Critical Mass/Downtown Partners to maximize revenue to the state in an ethical and socially responsible manner."

Downtown Partners did not return calls, Critical Mass could not be immediately reached and DDB did not comment.

According to the request for proposal, the Lottery typically spends "between 1.0%-1.2% of sales in advertising, production and related agency fees. The aggregate amount has ranged from $20M-$35M per year with the highest level during [fiscal year] 2012." A person familiar with the business said the agency fee was an estimated $4 million a year.

Downtown Partners counts Walgreens among its largest clients. It also works with the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau. Critical Mass clients include Nissan and AT&T .

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