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Lawrence & Schiller Lottery Contract to Redesign Logo, Peddle Irrational Fantasy

Lawrence & Shillery for SD LotteryBob Mercer reports that the $950,000/year contract with SDGOP crony firm Lawrence & Schiller that the South Dakota Lottery Commission approved without reading will get the lottery a market study, a new logo, and a redesigned website. Yay.

Commissioners and the rest of us can now read Contract #16-0280-001. We do get some freebies out of the deal. For instance, contract provision 6.8 requires Lawrence & Schiller to “donate its billable services time to create and produce problem/responsible gaming advertising and related materials for national Problem Gambling Awareness Month at no cost to the Lottery. Materials and incidental costs, printing costs and media purchase of time and space for the problem/responsible gaming advertising shall be billed at cost to the Lottery without Agency Commission.” (Problem Gambling Awareness Month is March.) An ounce of prevention should be worth a pound of the cure… and we certainly aren’t spending enough on curing problem gambling. Expect some “Don’t Jerk and Scratch and Win” ads come next spring.

Provision 6.12 requires that a Lawrence & Schiller shiller work the Lottery booth at the State Fair and the Black Hills Stock Show for at least eight hours at each event, at no charge to the Lottery.

The contract includes some accountability for Lawrence & Schiller’s Lottery promotions:

The Agency will provide a media planning and placement evaluation for each advertising campaign conducted for the Lottery to gauge the campaign’s effectiveness. Such campaign audit information should include (when applicable to campaign) real time evaluation and reporting, search engine advertising reports, pay per click campaign reports, analysis of campaign market spending to revenue impact; and social media growth. Post campaign audit reports will be provided within ten (10) working days of the end of the campaign [Contract #16-0280-001, Provision 6.13, 2015.07.02, p. 4].

I really look forward to reviewing the analysis of campaign market spending to revenue impact. I sure hope that document will be public! Getting a look at that analysis would certainly help us understand why the Lottery Commission is willing to spend 43% more on this contract than it spent on advertising the Lottery in 2014 and 67% more than the annual average spent from FY2010 to FY 2014:

Fiscal Year Advertising Expenditures
2010 $532,256
2011 $477,520
2012 $506,551
2013 $665,557
2014 $663,689

The contract includes the March 27, 2015, proposal that convinced the Lottery Commission to spend all that extra money. Lawrence & Schiller sprinkles the proposal with “Interesting Insights,” including these three quotes that hint at the direction L&S might take our lottery marketing:

Lawrence & Schiller, proposal to South Dakota Lottery Commission, 2015.03.27, p. 35.
Lawrence & Schiller, proposal to South Dakota Lottery Commission, 2015.03.27, p. 35.

Research shows that optimistic people are open to playing the lottery. The first thing you have to do is rehabilitate or create the brand as something people want to participate in [Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones, quoted in Lawrence & Schiller, proposal to South Dakota Lottery Commission, 2015.03.27, p. 35].

It’s ridiculous to say that 51% of the population is just irrational or self-destructive. [Playing the lottery] serves a psychological function for people. Our pleasure of living is not only based on our current situation, but what could be, what we can imagine our situation could be come [George Loewenstein, quoted in L&S proposal, p. 36].

The lottery lets you believe in magic: that you will be the one who spent a little and got a lot. And it is so much fun to play with the ‘what if I won’ scenario, to imagine what it would be like to live your dreams [Dr. Stephen Goldbart, in L&S proposal, p. 59].

See? You’re not simply irrational for playing the lottery; you’re an optimist! You’ve got imagination! You believe in magic! Play, play, play!

Actually, that last quote from Dr. Goldbart comes from a 2012 article called, “Lottery-itis,” which suggests that playing the lottery is a symptom of a disease. Let’s look at Dr. Goldfarb’s own words and the ones Lawrence & Schiller leaves out:

In an era of financial uncertainly and global change, many of us are unsure of our financial and personal direction. The map to finding the American Dream has been radically altered, and using old navigation systems may just keep us running in place or running in circles. So when we have been afflicted by what we have called the “financial anxiety epidemic” in which we feel tired, uncertain of what to do, and disempowered, we may seek a magic pill to make us feel better. Ah yes, buy a lottery ticket. Feel again like you did when you were a child, having hope that a better day will come, that some big thing will happen that will make everything right, set the course on track. In reality, buying a lottery ticket is gambling. But in fantasy, it lets you believe in magic: that you will be the one who spent a little and got a lot; that you will defy the extraordinary odds against winning. And it is so much fun to play with the ‘what if I won’ scenario, to imagine what it would be like to live your dreams, to have the money that will purchase not only a fantastic fantasy ride, but also give you a respite from the conflict, complexity, and angst of everyday life [Dr. Stephen Goldfarb, “Lottery-itis!Psychology Today, 2012.03.30].

In other words, when Lawrence & Schiller sells the lottery, they’ll be selling a fantasy. “Like a drug or alcohol,” says Goldfarb, “the benefit of buying the ticket is short-lived.”

Lawrence & Schiller also mentions that their target market will be people who watch crapola on television:

Lawrence & Schiller, proposal to South Dakota Lottery Commission, 2015.03.27, p. 36.

Adults who list playing the lottery as one of their leisure activities enjoy stories of competition, and some of their favorite TV shows are game shows, talent competitions (American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, etc.), pro football (NFL), professional wrestling, action sports/extreme sports, hunting/fishing and poker [L&S proposal, p. 41].

Well, at least I won’t be bothered by their TV ads.

In giving examples of effective past campaigns, Lawrence & Schiller offers their experience with the 2012 “100 Days of Heat” campaign to reduce speeding and drunk driving. L&S tells us what it thinks of South Dakotans’ “cowboy mentality”:

Cowboy mentality. South Dakota drivers have an independent spirit and don’t want to feel preached to. These drivers need a wake up call, but they don’t want to hear it [L&S proposal, p. 44].

Watch for L&S ads for its Republican patrons in the 2016 campaign season that play directly to that cowboy mentality rather than challenging it.

But hey, we’ve got lottery tickets to sell. Watch for the next big Lawrence & Schiller ad campaign to separate fools from their money, coming up next during Dancing with the Stars!


  1. Kurt Evans 2015-08-02 14:37

    Human beings wasting time and money tempting other human beings to waste time and money, leading to a significant net increase in human pain and suffering.

    I’ve abandoned my youthful support for government prohibition of gambling, but that’s a far cry from supporting government monopolization and direct promotion of gambling.

    Great post, Cory.

  2. leslie 2015-08-02 16:15

    i like how the contract is for just under a million dollars, which would seem too extravagant (LS: “let’s see, do you think we can get a million dollars from the state this time?”); their “research” quotes Psychology Today, a news-stand magazine; and in a sparsely populated western state they offend a huge percentage of real cowboys and cowgirls with a slur on the phrase. as dan buresch or one of his r/w buddies in love w/LS, might say-“HILARIOUS”

  3. Spencer 2015-08-02 20:39

    Developing a gambling problem in South Dakota, I am feeling good about my chances.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-02 21:17

    Kurt, your description of gambling is why I can’t work in advertising. I can’t spend my time trying to convince people to waste their time and money.

    Spencer, if you worked for Lawrence & Schiller, you would never have to worry about your chances: your pull at the government slot machine would always come up Lucky 7s.

  5. larry kurtz 2015-08-02 21:56

    Cory, you will be swept into PR any day now just like every other talented propagandist in the biz has been.

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