In what’s being described as the first Major League Baseball-sanctioned lottery ticket featuring a professional baseball player, the Maine State Lottery is unveiling this spring a new instant ticket game offering as its grand prize a luncheon hosted for 10 lucky winners by Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, known to fans as Big Papi.
The winners then will be invited to watch the Red Sox play ball from the team’s private suite at Fenway Park.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Michael Boardman, the lottery’s marketing director. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
The advertising rollout for the Big Papi/Boston Red Sox Instant Ticket, coincidentally, marks the debut of the lottery’s new agency of record, Boston-based Fuseideas (pronounced “fuse ideas”). Fuseideas took over the lottery account Feb. 1 from Portland-based NL Partners.
Dennis Franczak, Fuseideas’ founder and CEO, doesn’t need to be reminded that the agency’s first-at-bat for Team Maine Lottery is akin to David Ortiz stepping up to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. “We want a ‘Wow!’ factor for this first one,” he says.
“It’s not going to be gimmicky, it’s going to be unique,” adds Steve Mason, a Maine native and Fuseideas’ senior vice president, who oversees the company’s Portland office and will be working on the Maine Lottery account. “It will reflect what these games are all about — fun and entertainment.”
Mason says the Big Papi instant win game is a good example of how lotteries are moving beyond a simple “jackpot” mindset to a broader approach that emphasizes what Boardman fairly calls, at least in Red Sox Nation, giving people a chance to win a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. The marketing challenge, Mason says, is to connect David Ortiz’s celebrity status — his gift for hitting game-winning home runs, his love of spicy food and backyard barbecues, his unbridled exuberance and propensity for, shall we say, colorful language — with the lives of the people who’ll be buying those instant lottery tickets.
“It’s not just about Big Papi,” he says. “It’s about the opportunity for the winning players to enjoy a unique experience at Fenway Park.”
Boardman says the Big Papi instant win game was developed by Maine State Lottery’s longtime technology partner Scientific Games Corp., which completed a major upgrade of the state’s “instant win” (e.g. Mad Money and 7 Wins) and “draw lottery” (e.g. Megabucks and Powerball) operations last fall. The upgrade included installing new lottery equipment in nearly 1,300 retail locations statewide.
It’s part of an overall strategy to make sure the 40-year-old brand, which has pumped more than $1.19 billion into the state’s general fund and has paid more than $2.8 billion in prizes to winners since 1974, doesn’t slip into a middle-age mindset of complacency.
“That’s always a challenge when you’re a ‘mature’ lottery,” he says. “Fuseideas really put together a very strong proposal to move us forward going into the future. With their help, we’ll be trying some new things.”
Fuseideas, which has an office just off Portland’s Commercial Street, has a $3.56 million marketing budget for 2015, which includes $710,000 to promote instant tickets, $1 million for Powerball, Hot Lotto, Mega Millions and Lucky for Life, and $1.85 million for tri-state advertising. Boardman acknowledges the company’s six-year track record with the Massachusetts lottery and, for the last two years, Connecticut’s lottery, were duly noted during the competitive bid process that led to its three-year contract.
“It’s certainly helpful to have that experience,” Boardman says. “They have a strong management and creative team and it’s a plus when you have someone that’s already working with a lottery and knows what’s involved.”
Franczak says the challenges at Maine’s lottery are similar to those faced by the Connecticut Lottery when the agency took over its marketing account. Although it had annual sales of more than $1.1 billion and had contributed more than $7.8 billion to the state’s general fund over its history, he says, the Connecticut Lottery’s managers felt they needed to reinvigorate the lottery’s marketing program.
Fuseideas tackled that problem by developing fully integrated media plans to market the different lottery games across television, radio, point-of-sale displays and online, with particular attention paid to social media, Franczak says. The agency’s advertising campaigns contributed to healthy sales increases for the Connecticut Lottery, he says, with social media playing a key role.
Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media as marketing tools will play a similar role in Fuseideas’ marketing strategy for Maine.
“We pitched going into digital and social media more intensively as a way to help the Maine Lottery grow,” Franczak says. “It’s a huge opportunity for them.”
“The shareability factor with digital and social media is huge,” Mason adds. “If the content is interesting, it’s going to get picked up. We have a lot of ideas on how to get them to the next level.”
Storytelling is key to that strategy, he says, with the lottery’s winners being an obvious source of engaging stories.
“These are fun little stories to tell,” Mason says. “We’ll talk to people as they present their winning ticket and claim their prize. It’s so human. One of the key ideas we’re developing is that there is a tremendous number of prize winners every year. People don’t realize how many people visit the Lottery office to claim their prize. We’ll be publicizing and sharing those winners’ stories. It’s all about increasing visibility for the Maine Lottery.”
At the same time, Franczak and Mason say the agency’s marketing efforts will be strategic, with a day-by-day blocking of the calendar year to identify opportunities for creating timely advertisements and point-of-sale displays based on the rollout of new games or jackpots that are high enough to create some buzz or simply games that Fuseideas and Maine Lottery officials agree need a marketing boost.
“The Maine Lottery is the overarching brand,” Mason says, “but it owns a house full of brands. Each game has its own following, its own personality, and that’s important. But sometimes the overall brand gets lost in the background. ”
There’s some science behind the effort, too. Sales are an obvious measurement, but Franczak says the agency will be measuring the perceptions of Maine Lottery players by using the polling services of Pan Atlantic SMS Group, which was ranked by nationally renowned polling analyst Nate Silver in the top 20 percent nationally of 337 firms that were analyzed. “Our objective is to make sure Maine Lottery is seen in the most positive way,” he says.
Fuseideas’ Portland team has a portfolio of past and present clients that includes the Maine Office of Tourism, Maine Turnpike Authority, Maine Department of Transportation, Sargent Corp., Portland Discovery Land and Sea Tours, Gorham Savings Bank, Finance Authority of Maine and the Bermuda Department of Tourism.
Fuseideas leaders look forward to helping Maine Lottery build on a 40-year record of success.
“It’s a really big deal for us to land this account,” says Franczak, whose agency was recently named one of the fastest-growing private companies in Massachusetts by the Boston Business Journal. “We want to give Maine a voice in something that’s very important to the state. Our No. 1 priority is to help the Maine State Lottery do as much business as it can, so it can generate more money for the state’s general fund.”