N.Y. Lottery Builds Words Out of Dough

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The envy continues in DDB New York's "Yeah, That Kinda Rich" campaign for the New York Lottery. It comprises hilarious spots featuring ridiculous scenarios that end up being mundane--if you're gazillionaire. Take for example, the dude that drives in reverse for what seems like ages--and it turns out he's retrieving the newspaper at the end of his driveway. There's also the man wandering around a sea of cars aimlessly, clicking his key chain car alarm in the hopes of locating his wheels--within his own parking structure.

The latest round of ads makes a more subtle statement of unimaginable wealth, with a series of typographical posters featuring snarky declarations like "Your butler has a butler" and "Banks ask you for a bailout." Minimalistic posters feature words alone--only all the letters are formed from piles of money. For the ads, which are running on buses, shelters and subway stations in New York, the agency went for the real deal, creating a full alphabet out of sideways stacks of genuine greenbacks.

The idea for letters made out of bills was inspired partly by the desire to take the campaign in a new direction, and partly by the fact that the agency has a talented typographer on its staff, Juan Carlos Pagan, who was co-designer of the Pinterest logo. "Juan Carlos is a type addict," says Menno Kluin, DDB New York ECD. "[ACDs] Tony [Bartolucci] and Colin [Lapin] worked closely with him to try and get this as simple and legible as possible."

A Little Too Much Body
The process took a good two months and turned out to be quite complicated because, it so happens, money has a mind of its own. The agency brought in typographer Craig Ward "to bring it to the next level," says Kluin. "Craig is great at experimenting and solving problems in the creation of type." Ward had worked at agencies like CHI & Partners and MCBD before forming his own collective studio Words Are Pictures, and is known for his boundary-pushing typographical work for clients like Hennessy (Droga5's "Wild Rabbit" campaign), Wired, Nike, The Economist and many more.

"Shaping these bills into typographic forms with minimal use of our hands was very difficult," says Pagan. "We wanted to keep our hands out of the photo as much as possible to decrease the work in post. This forced us to use clear fishing line and hat pins."

"The physicality of the money was far more prohibitive than I had expected when the brief came in," adds Ward. "Putting money into a half-inch stack changes the way it moves and reacts under pressure and tension. We need to create shapes that are natural to us--the curve of a g's tail, or the flow of an s, but to a stack of paper, these are very unnatural positions, and it was constantly fighting us, springing out of position before we got the shot, and forcing us to start over. Some letters required three members of the team to get involved."

In the end, the shapely stacks required a lot of work in post. "We used pins that were as long and thin as possible so as to not interrupt the shot too much," says Ward. "But while still being strong enough to hold the money in place, even then I was spending a few hours per letter rebuilding those areas to remove the pins, their shadows and light refraction."

And, although it looks like the project required the sort of cash only a billionaire would have on hand, each ad only used between $1,000 to $1,500 worth of dough. "We took out mostly singles to fill the forms and $100 to wrap the outsides," says Kluin.

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