California Lottery Ad Review Descends Into Farce

08 January 2004

Californians have long questioned whether the executives responsible for running the state's lottery are capable of organizing the proverbial bacchanalia in a brewery.

The latest episode in the ongoing farce surrounding the California Lottery's four-year, $100 million (€79.37m; £55.11m) general marketing contract sees the state amending its request for proposals to all eight contestant agencies. According to a Lottery spokeswoman, "nearly all [the bids] had material problems" with the state's labyrinthine disclosure requirements.

At the core of the confusion is a wondrous requirement, perhaps drafted by the wraiths of Orwell and Kafka, that demands the disclosure of "official legal documents" identifying the name and number of board members and officers, including vacant seats on boards, of all the agencies. For corporations, this involves the submission of corporate documents certified by the general counsel or secretary of the corporation.

The amendment clarifies disclosure requirements, reiterates account billing procedures and revises the decision-making timetable. Finalists will now be announced on January 27 (as opposed to this week) with the contract due to take effect this spring.

The eight shops involved have four options: (1) Quit the review; (2) Allow their submitted disclosure documents to stand; (3) Resubmit an entirely new proposal; (4) Resubmit an amended proposal.

Arraigned against incumbent Grey Worldwide (Los Angeles) are two independent shops: Ground Zero (Los Angeles) and Californian indie consortium Triple Play. Then there are the Big Guys: Omnicom Group's BBDO West (San Francisco and Los Angeles) and DDB Worldwide (Los Angeles, with sibling shops OMD and Alcone); also pec-pumping are Interpublic Group's Dailey & Associates (West Hollywood), Foote Cone & Belding (San Francisco) and McCann-Erickson (Los Angeles).

There is no truth in the rumor that Disney plans a live-action animated movie starring Governor Schwarzenegger and Donald Duck, based on the Lottery's three year struggle to appoint (and hold) an agency to run its account.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff