Denver-based agency Cactus has been the agency-of-record for the Colorado Lottery for 15 years - the agency’s longest-standing client, and an eternity in the often fickle world of agency/client relationships. We asked Cactus Founder Joe Conrad for the secret to their successful partnership and he’ll tell you it all comes down to the commitment the agency made from day one to put the Lottery first and always push for great, innovative work no matter the project or the budget.
“We are extremely proud of the work we have produced together with the folks at the lottery and the positive impact it has had on our home state of Colorado,” Conrad says.
Tell us about one of your favorite Colorado Lottery projects. What is the campaign concept, what makes it good and is there a story behind the story?
JC: I’m sure Shea will also want to chime in on this one, there are so many favorites it’s hard to choose, but I’ll have to go with a holiday campaign from two years ago promoting scratch tickets as holiday gifts. It is the most heart-warming Lottery spot I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some pretty great ones from around the world. It features an adorable older couple in their living room during the holidays and exchanges scratch tickets. I won’t ruin the punch line but it is the ultimate demonstration that it truly is better to give than to receive. Scratch games are known for instant fun and the default is always comedy. So to create a truly sincere spot that warms your heart is a huge accomplishment.
ST: The relaunch of Colorado Lotto+ is another favorite. The fictional world of Colorado 101 informed, as well as entertaining. This work was not only a creative success but has helped Colorado’s in-state Lotto product become the fastest-growing Lotto in the country.
What’s the agency’s POV on advertising and the lottery industry? Obviously, the ethical issues come up, and possibly other challenges? Are there particulars to lottery marketing most agencies aren’t familiar with?
ST: At first glance, people think the Lottery business is pretty simple and straightforward, but in reality, it is a complex industry and there is a big learning curve there. It is fast-paced, dynamic and incredibly fun. When people bring up the ethical issues behind lotteries, we find most often that there is a lot of misperception about who is playing. I don’t believe we should judge people on how they decide to invest their entertainment dollars and state Lotteries are by far the fairest, winnable and conscientious organization in the gaming industry.
JC: The Colorado Lottery, and every other lottery in the country, believes in actively supporting responsible gaming in their state and they go to great lengths to encourage players to know their limits and play smart. Our mission since we have been working with the Colorado Lottery is to broaden the appeal of Lottery games to an even broader group of people. It’s also important to remember that no other gaming organization contributes 100 percent of its profit to support important state initiatives like outdoor recreation and conservation, education and more.
The comedy in these lottery campaigns is really funny. Who is the creative team for the Colorado Lottery work? Talk overall about the Cactus team on Colorado Lottery, as well as on the client-side. Who are some of the individuals who should get a shout-out?
JC: We have an incredible team of people throughout the whole agency and our creative squad is amazing. Shea has been leading the way on the creative charge for the Lottery account for the past two years and was a senior copywriter on the account for the previous five. Some other strong contributors are Haley Simon (ACD/Art Director), Andy Bartosch (Senior Copywriter), Will Patterson (Senior Copywriter), Paige Halter (Art Director), Brooke Woodruff and Martha Douglas (Broadcast Producers).
On the client-side we are extremely fortunate to have an Executive Director in Tom Seaver, who actually began his career in advertising running the Colorado Lottery account for an agency. For the past 25 years, he has worked as a consultant in the lottery industry where he really knows his stuff and sets a great tone for the whole organization. He also understands marketing and loves great creativity, so we could not be more grateful for that.
We noticed that your Colorado Lottery ads often note that proceeds from the lottery go to pay for education and other government initiatives. Here in the New York area, we don’t see that in our lottery ads. What’s the evolution of playing up that aspect? Is it something that the client wanted or you discovered tested well?
JC: We are fortunate that in Colorado we have such great proceed recipients in Great Outdoor Colorado, the Conservation Trust Fund and Colorado Wildlife. The Colorado Lottery literally contributes a significant amount ($3.7B and counting) to make Colorado special and fuels our tourism industry to make it one of the best states to call home. The Colorado Lottery is a conservation organization, and we are proud of that and we make it a huge priority in our campaigns. We use the tagline “PlayOn” to remind players to have fun playing our games and to get out and enjoy all that Colorado has to offer every season of the year.
ST: Cactus is the OG purpose-driven agency with a mission to grow brands that help people thrive. Whenever someone responds in a derogatory manner towards our work with the Lottery, we proudly defend our partners who work hard to bring exciting games of chance to players in a convenient and responsible manner. They make dreams come true every day and all of the profit goes to benefit the state in an essential way for all to enjoy.