In his Feb. 18 State of the State address, Gov. Pat McCrory was critical of the North Carolina Education Lottery advertising. Josh Fahey, who worked as a commercial writer on the ads, gives the other side to the issue.
Here is further coverage of the State of the State address.
Lottery advertising works
I used to write commercials for the lottery, and this is my response to the governor’s comments about the “bloated and frankly annoying advertising” in his State of the State address. He is misguided on a few things.
First, I wrote a lot of that bloated and annoying advertising, and my first comment would be that he should be careful throwing stones from that glass governor’s mansion. When he was flooding the airwaves with Sheriff Wayne Gay telling me he was going to hunt you down, I couldn’t change the channel fast enough. I think most of the state felt that way. Knowing how annoying people found it, would he go back and pull it if he could? I doubt it. Why? Because it probably helped him win.
I’ll admit, sometimes the advertising is a little odd, and it can get a little cheesy, but let me explain why. When the lottery advertises, the ads can’t talk about money. They can’t talk about winning. They can’t talk about what you would do with the money. They can’t even really show money. Why? State law prevented us from doing so. So when you can’t talk about the product in a realistic way, the advertising might get a little weird.
That being said, the advertising works. The ROI on the advertising is a net positive. The games that are advertised sell more tickets than the games that aren’t. When advertising budgets increased slightly, the lottery brought in more money. And the result was more money went to education. Sure, there would be a point of diminishing return, but they aren’t even close to hitting that. But by and large, when the lottery advertises, people buy more tickets and more money goes to education.
Having worked on it for a couple of years, I have seen firsthand how the lottery stretches every dollar. I would venture to say there are few government agencies that would be such good stewards with the money. Every commercial is triple bid, and efficiencies are sought out in every area. And where is this money going? Right into the production companies and crew right here in North Carolina.
The state of Georgia has a lot of good ideas. McCrory said so himself when he talked about our differences in state-run medical care. You know what else Georgia does right? Its lottery. It puts a lot more money into advertising and doesn’t severely restrict it. It sells a lot more tickets, and the students in Georgia reap the rewards.
Georgia isn’t perfect, but it funds its education system and doesn’t cut its budgets and use the lottery to fill in the gaps. It’s a supplement to education, not a revenue stream for what should already be funded. Georgia also doesn’t dip into lottery funds to fill in noneducation state budget gaps. This is also a good idea.
I don’t work for the agency that works on the lottery anymore, but I thought I should speak up for them, the lottery and production and crew in North Carolina. Gov. McCrory’s statement may have been politically popular, but it’s off base, misguided and simply not true.
There aren’t many conservative people in advertising, but I’m one of them. I voted for McCrory in the last election, and I had high hopes. But this is a severe disappointment to me. I don’t know why super conservative Georgia can embrace the lottery and North Carolina can’t. I hope McCrory changes his thinking and lets me know if he wants to do some better advertising in the next election cycle.