Local News

New Lottery Director Promises No 'Flash' In Ads

Posted November 19, 2005 9:30 a.m. EST

— Before the passage of the lottery, some lawmakers argued for almost no advertising.

Others wondered how can the games be successful without promotion.

WRAL wanted to get a handle on the new lottery director's philosophy on ads, so WRAL obtained some of his handiwork from New Mexico.

Instead of scratch tickets and jackpot promises, an ad campaign touts scholarships generated by the New Mexico lottery.

"My parents didn't have to worry about paying for tuition," the commercial says.

Tom Shaheen, the new lottery director, said the ads won't be flashy.

"You are not going to see a lot of flash," he said.

Shaheen said we should expect no hard sell here. At the same time, the ads won't all be about education.

"It's going to be some type of funny thing going on and by the way, here's the new scratch-off game from the North Carolina Lottery," Shaheen said. "Here's the top prize and here's the odds."

We asked state Rep. Nelson Dollar of Wake County to look over the New Mexico TV ads. He opposes the lottery. Instead of "get rich quick" commercials, Dollar calls the education ads kinder and gentler, but still a gambling sales pitch.

"The clever portion of the ads is not to directly talk about what you may win," Dollar said. "But, it's an emotional inducement to get people to participate."

Dollar points out state lottery law prohibits ads with the primary purpose of inducing people to play the games. He believes it's misleading to characterize these spots any other way.

"There is no real way of advertising without inducing," Dollar said.

The lottery commission and most lottery supporters we talked with back Shaheen's ideas on advertising.

Still, opponents say they'll closely watch what kinds of billboards, TV, radio, and newspaper ads kick off the lottery next year.