National Lottery introduces ‘the Guru’ in first advertisement for online play

Humourous campaign targets ‘occasional’ players, says chief executive Dermot Griffin

A still from the National Lottery’s new advertising campaign, featuring ‘The Guru’. You can ask him to predict next week’s numbers, but don’t expect him to be much help.

A still from the National Lottery’s new advertising campaign, featuring ‘The Guru’. You can ask him to predict next week’s numbers, but don’t expect him to be much help.

Thu, May 8, 2014, 01:10

The National Lottery has launched a new advertising campaign to promote its play online channel directly to consumers for the first time.

The organisation this week introduced “the Guru”, who claims to be able to predict the future from his meditative perch, high up in the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range, Co Kerry.

The campaign, devised by the National Lottery’s creative agency DDFH&B, went on air this week with a 60-second television ad, and will continue over the summer with a further five television ads and a digital version.

Tens of thousands of people already play Lotto, Euromillions and other games online every week, but until the passing of the National Lottery Act 2013, there was no specific provision allowing for the marketing of online play.

“This is the first time ever we have gone above the line for marketing online services,” says National Lottery chief executive Dermot Griffin.

Before the 2013 Act, which was passed to facilitate the sale of the licence, the Lottery operated under legislation from 1987 that unsurprisingly did not anticipate either mobile phone or internet play.

Since it launched online services in pilot mode in 2009, the National Lottery has attracted about 80,000 weekly players to its main draws and instant online games, “without any significant marketing activity”.

However, some 15 per cent of UK lottery players play online and Griffin believes the Irish lottery will reach this target “in the medium term”. This would take the number of weekly online players to 225,000-330,000.

The new campaign was developed by DDFH&B’s Gavin O’Sullivan and Roland Mahon, while the television ads were directed by Simon Levene and produced by Sweet Media.

In the lead 60-second ad, the Guru tells a young man that there is no point in telling him the Lotto numbers for the next draw because he won’t have time to get to a shop, only for the man to produce his smartphone and point out he can play online, prompting the Guru to find other excuses for his clairvoyance failures.

“Humour works really well for the Lottery. Our approach is that the Lottery is a good news story, a bit of fun, an entertainment. We need our advertisements to reflect that,” says Griffin.

The most effective time for the Lottery to advertise on television is in the evening before the night of a draw, with radio “reminders” on the day of the draw itself, he says.

The National Lottery typically spends about 2 per cent of its revenues on marketing and the “play online” campaign, which will also be carried across digital, press and out-of-home media, is the biggest campaign that it will run this year.

Its target is the “occasional” players who don’t go out of their way to play.

Griffin says the research suggests the main reason people don’t enter lottery draws is because they forget to play or because they are not near a shop.

“The number one reason they do play is that they are in a shop and they see someone else playing.”

Although the Lottery expects the majority of players will continue to enter draws in-store, a surge in online registrations will “allow us to know a little bit more about our players”, he adds. “The whole secret is to make sure that the games we offer right across the board, in retail and online, are kept fresh.”

There are “appropriate controls” in place to prevent excessive or underage play, Griffin says. “We’re very conscious of our approach. We want as many people as possible to play it, as the national lottery.

“We’re not looking for any excessive plays from any particular segment of players and we’re not looking for people to spend a disproportionate amount.”