Local star shines in lottery spot

An ad campaign for a Loto-Quebec lottery game is proving it is possible to create great advertising even when the ads may depend heavily on the ability and appeal of a local tv celebrity.The ads, created by Montreal hot shop, Communications...

An ad campaign for a Loto-Quebec lottery game is proving it is possible to create great advertising even when the ads may depend heavily on the ability and appeal of a local tv celebrity.

The ads, created by Montreal hot shop, Communications bleu blanc rouge, are among the few that successfully exploit the talents of a local tv personality.

Casting of francophone celebrities by agencies here often appears a desperate attempt at trying to create authentic ‘Quebec creative.’

Casting a local star is not enough to make an ad work. It is only one component of a creative strategy and concept. A great ad is derived from a great concept.

Bleu, blanc rouge cast local star Daniel Bouchard, who played a newscaster on the popular and critically-acclaimed tv series, Lance et Compte (He Shoots, He Scores), in its tv spots for Mise-O-Jeu, Lotto Quebec’s sports betting game.

The Mise-O-Jeu spots are greatly aided by Bouchard and his charming and ‘sympathique’ (warm and congenial) personality.

The tv spots are also highly effective because the agency, presumably helped and encouraged by the client, wrote a believable script, a script Bouchard was destined to read.

We are still in tv land facing a fictitious personality in a fictitious situation, but we are charmed by this enthusiastic, smooth-talking dude who makes a convincing case to us about why we should think about a little betting on some sports games.

Mise-O-Jeu was launched by the provincial lottery corporation two years ago. The initial ads featured Bouchard, but tried to appeal to a broad cross-section of the betting public.

‘We’ve focussed the message now,’ says Richard Constantineau, creative director at bleu, blanc, rouge. ‘Now the ads are aimed directly at sports fans.’

He claims Mise-O-Jeu offers gamblers significantly better odds than other lottery games, adding, ‘there is a lot more skill involved.’

Bouchard’s pitch takes advantage of the game’s better odds, and people’s apparently natural urge to try to guess the outcome of sports games.

‘Think, how many times have you predicted the outcome of different games?’ asks Bouchard, leaning closer to the camera conspiratorially. ‘Why not try and turn it into a little money? You know your sports, so place a bet with Mise-O-Jeu.’

Bouchard is the action-centre and fire-spark in these ads.

‘His personality makes it happen,’ Constantineau says. ‘He is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic character.’

He is confiding a secret with his audience.

‘Other ad agencies have asked me if we were sure the ads were entirely legal,’ Constantineau says. ‘He is very convincing.’

Bouchard is also funny but credible. He walks the fine line. ‘The ads look for a smile not for a laugh,’ Constantineau says.

‘Bouchard is well-known to sports fans,’ says Roger Sirard, director of advertising at Loto-Quebec. ‘He is first and foremost a tv star, but he is also a sports personality.’

Bouchard is apparently a big hockey fan and an even bigger Montreal Canadiens fan.

‘He has season’s tickets to the Canadiens games and people see him all the time at the [Montreal] Forum,’ Constantineau says.

The actor’s pitch is refined by videotaping a dry-run of the ad the week before filming. This allows the agency and the talent the opportunity to refine and perfect the pitch.

‘By the time we film, he has really nailed it down,’ Constantineau says.

Deserving praise is Chantal Joly, who wrote the copy in the commercials, and Claire Papillon, who was the art director. The spots were directed by Daniel Jareau of Productions Diva.

Michael Judson is president of Judson Woods, a full-service ad agency and public relations company in Montreal.