NY lottery breaks second ad wave

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The latest New York State Lottery campaign breaks this morning, and nobody sings along to the Barenaked Ladies' song "If I Had a Million Dollars." The music plays in the background this time, but the spots again focus on real people.

The charm of impromptu interviews with regular folks who muse about winning the lottery anchors this leg of the $60 million campaign from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, New York. John Staffen, executive creative director, was still narrowing down late last week which of the 17 rough cuts of mainly 15-second TV spots the agency will eventually air. "The stuff we got was just so rich," he said.


The New York State Lottery has been a bellwether for creativity among state lottery campaigns. The New York Lottery is Mr. Staffen's baby. Despite a two-year lapse in the mid-1990s when DDB briefly lost the account to Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, he's amassed 10 years of work for New York Lottery. DDB's New York work-and its work on national lotteries in Canada and the Netherlands-was a plus in the winning pitch for the four-year, $100 million California State Lottery by DDB's Los Angeles office.

For the New York efffort, Mr. Staffen, director Greg Kohs and crew scoured the state for people to interview. This time, it was a bit easier to persuade people to sit down and talk rather than sing, although in the four months since the original "If I Had a Million Dollars" campaign began, the song has become known as the catchy jingle for the lottery.

The two men were looking for what they called interesting situations and interesting people. In fact, during the first campaign, they were driving from one location to another and came upon the farmer who was eventually used in one commercial, sitting atop a tractor while singing the song.

"People caught on to the song so quickly that we thought it was time to do a one-two punch," Mr. Staffen said. "We're kind of taking our cues with this from where people take it. I think this second leg kind of reintroduces people to the lottery."

The interviews are genuine and often quite funny. In one spot in particular, a man is sitting at a table with several buddies when asked what he would do if he won the lottery. "I would call my wife," he says, slowly. "Tell her to pack her bags ..."

And, just when you think the man is about to say he would take her to an exotic destination, he says, "and tell her she's outta there." (AdAge.com QwikFIND aan22y).

"It could have been a bad gender joke," Mr. Staffen said, "but he's just so innocent and charming, and the delivery is perfect. That's what I think is the key to it. We just play back what people say."

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