In an organizational debacle that would make Hollywood’s Police Academy look a well-oiled machine, the California Lottery Commission decided Friday to reject the ‘winner’ of its second account review within twelve months.

First time around in March 2002, DDB Worldwide in Los Angeles won the account – worth $125 million (€113.4m; £77.5m) over five years – then promptly lost it after ousted incumbent Grey Worldwide complained its successor had not adequately disclosed its media arrangements [WAMN: 06-Mar-02].

Cue another review. This time FCB Worldwide in San Francisco seemed to have won the business, until DDB contested FCB’s media costs and threatened legal action. At which point the Lottery asked for another rebid involving media costs and mark-ups only – whereupon DDB and Grey pulled out saying they could not beat FCB.

This left FCB and McCann-Erickson Worldwide’s Los Angeles office as sole contestants for the account, which last month was finally awarded to the latter [WAMN: 13-Mar-03]. The decision was promptly challenged by FCB – the third time in the review process that a winner had been announced only for a losing shop to dispute the decision.

Still awake and sitting comfortably?

Last Friday, the commission met in the so-called ‘Jackpot Room’ of its Sacramento headquarters to mull, then agree, the recommendation of lottery director/ceo Joan Wilson. Namely that … grip the arms of your chair … the most recent review be voided on grounds that McCann had failed to meet “minimum requirements for ownership disclosures”.

Commission chairman David Rosenberg clearly has a sense of humor. He expressed the hope that the lottery review’s “third time would be the charm”.

So too do America’s advertising agencies.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff