Bob Mercer reports that the South Dakota Lottery is bringing in $5.5 million more this year than last. The lottery must be getting some good advertising…
…but apparently not good enough. Yesterday the lottery commission voted 4–2 to dump its current advertising agency, Robert Sharp & Associates of Rapid City, and hand its two-year, $1.8-million contract to Lawrence & Schiller of Sioux Falls.
Interestingly, Mercer reports that commissioners voted on the Lawrence & Schiller contract without seeing it:
Commissioner Jim Towler of Dakota Dunes asked in several ways several times about how much Lawrence & Schiller would make.
“What Lawrence & Schiller’s piece of that is, I don’t have that answer,” Lingle said.
…Commissioner Bob Hartford of Pierre said knowing that number isn’t the lottery commission’s responsibility.
“I don’t care what Lawrence & Schiller is making. They evidently put together the best presentation,” Hartford said. “I think it’s time to approve what they have done.”
Commissioner Doyle Estes of Hill City…, a Rapid City lawyer and business developer, asked if the contract has been shown to the commission. [Lottery director Norm] Lingle said it hasn’t.
“It’s been through legal,” he said [Bob Mercer, “In Split Decision, Lottery Office Changes Advertising Firm,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.06.12].
Mercer says this is Lawrence & Schiller’s first lottery contract. But the agency done plenty of work for the state, including the recently splash-making “South Dakota better than Mars” campaign for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the “Don’t Jerk and Drive” campaign for the Department of Public Safety. Mercer catalogs the numerous hooks Lawrence and Schiller already has in South Dakota’s Republican-controlled government:
Of late, Lawrence & Schiller has become integral to many state agencies and offices. During the past 12 months, Lawrence & Schiller received more than $6 million in payments from state government, according to state records.
The firm held state contracts in the past 12 months with the Department of Education, the Board of Regents, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the governor’s invitational pheasant hunt, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Labor and Regulation and the Department of Public Safety.
The firm provided advertising and marketing services for Gov. Dennis Daugaard in his two campaigns in 2010 and 2014 and for the general election campaigns of previous Gov. Mike Rounds in 2002 and 2006.
Laura Mitchell, whose father is Gov. Daugaard, has worked for Lawrence & Schiller since 2006, except for a break to work on the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. She is a digital strategist.
Craig Lawrence, a retired founder of the firm, completed a two-year term as chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party earlier this year [Mercer, 2015.06.12].
It’s good to be the king. And it’s good to be the king’s ad agency.