Atlantic Lottery - Askaway

Services--General (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Atlantic Lottery
Maureen Wojick - Category Manager

Agency Credits: Revolve
Matthew Allen - Creative Director
John Smith - Senior Copywriter
Sam Archibald - Art Director
Nelson Angel - Group Account Director
Patricia Nelis - Account Director
Kim Mosher - Account Co-ordinator
Victoria DeWolfe - Account Co-ordinator
Adam Kruszynski - Digital Director
DIGITALKITCHEN - Production Partner

Crossover Notes:
All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2013 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 1. What a Brand Stands For.
Crossover Note 2. Brand Truths.
Crossover Note 9. Turnarounds.
Crossover Note 11. The Eureka Insight.
Crossover Note 18. Keeping it Simple.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.

Total 2755 Words


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):June 2011 – May 2012
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: June 2011
Base Period as a Benchmark: March 2010 (baseline research numbers)

a) Overall Assessment

Established by the four Atlantic provincial governments in 1976, Atlantic Lottery is a crown corporation responsible for the operation, regulation and management of the lottery in Atlantic Canada. As a crown corporation, Atlantic Lottery is accountable to the provincial government owners and, therefore, the people of Atlantic Canada.

Atlantic Lottery was created to provide general revenue to the provincial shareholders. This money is used to fund government services and infrastructure in each province.  Since 1976, Atlantic Lottery has returned over $6 billion to help fund roads, healthcare and education.

The problem is that despite being part of the fabric of Atlantic Canada for more than 35 years, few Atlantic Canadians understood Atlantic Lottery’s true purpose and the tremendous impact it has on building a better Atlantic Canada. [Crossover Note 1] This fundamental lack of understanding led to public mistrust and misconceptions about Atlantic Lottery with the very people it was created to benefit. 

How serious the reputation problem had become was reflected in public opinion research conducted by the Gandalf Group with Involved Atlantic Canadians (IACs) in late 2009 and early 2010. Involved Atlantic Canadians make up 42% of the population and are an engaged, vocal group. They are Atlantic Canadian opinion leaders. The study revealed that 38% of IACs had a negative opinion of Atlantic Lottery. Anything above 30% is considered high risk, and could trigger policy/organizational changes from government owners. When Atlantic Lottery makes an “ask” of the government owners/policy-makers, the decision is made in consideration of public opinion. With a clearly unfavorable view from IACs (38%), one can see how difficult it would be to get policy-makers to make decisions in the Lottery’s favour, and in turn, how challenging managing the business effectively would be.

Although the research revealed a serious problem, it also revealed that much of the negative public opinion was a result of a lack of proper information and understanding. The fact is that Atlantic Lottery had never made a strong effort to share its story. The absence of clear communication over the years coupled with Atlantic Lottery being government owned, and therefore perceived as secretive by Atlantic Canadians, had created the ideal conditions for breeding and spreading public mistrust.

Atlantic Lottery has also historically faced a hostile media climate. Although TV, newspapers and radio would occasionally cover a big winner, the good news and positive impact stories were far overshadowed by coverage of gambling addiction, controversy over video lottery terminals and stories that retailers were winning more than they should. This unbalanced portrayal of Atlantic Lottery compounded the problem.Turning the tide of public opinion would be an uphill battle, and it was highly unlikely that the lottery could count on positive press coverage to help make it happen.

It was clear that Atlantic Lottery needed to do a much better job of sharing its story and educating people about its true purpose. Involved Atlantic Canadians form opinions (and influence others) based on fact. Sharing the right facts in a manner that would not be dismissed by the audience as government spin is the largest communications challenge that Atlantic Lottery has ever faced. In 2010, Atlantic Lottery began developing a core strategy, creative idea and timeline. In June 2011, the new Ask Away platform launched, and completely redefined how the organization engages with Atlantic Canadians.

b) Resulting Business Objectives

The turnaround would not happen overnight. [Crossover Note 9] Using the 2010 research baseline, Atlantic Lottery developed a five-year plan with aggressive objectives for March 2015 as follows:



2011 launch

 (2010 research baseline numbers)




Year 1







Reduce unfavourability of Atlantic Lottery with IACs



(- 2%)







Increase public understanding that Atlantic Lottery is a publicly owned corporation










Increase public understanding that Atlantic Lottery is transparent and honest about where its profits go










Increase public understanding that Atlantic Lottery offers safe & regulated gambling










c) Annual Media Budget
$1 - $2 million

d) Geographic Area
Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia)

a) Analysis and Insight

Involved Atlantic Canadians are 35+, well educated and considered leaders of public opinion / political influencers. They actively seek out information and facts in order to establish an opinion and be heard.  They want answers, and can see through corporate spin. [Crossover Note 2]

Atlantic Lottery had identified who they needed to engage, but still faced the challenge of how to engage them. The answer came from an insight into the target audience itself. In order to be included in the research definition of “involved”, they needed to have participated in at least two of the following activities in the previous year:

  • Spoken at a public meeting
  • Been a member of a public service organization
  • Served as an officer of a non-governmental organization that deals with public policy issues
  • Written a letter to a newspaper editor
  • Called a television or radio show that deals with public affairs
  • Written to an elected representative

Involved Atlantic Canadians want to be exactly that – involved. They are used to participating in dialogue about important issues. So why not involve them? Talking AT the target audience simply wouldn’t work. In fact, it would play directly into the corporate, faceless image of Atlantic Lottery. It was time to talk openly and honestly - Atlantic Canadians to Atlantic Canadians. [Crossover Note 11]

b) Communication Strategy

The strategy revolved around creating a platform where people could truly get to know Atlantic Lottery in a way that you would never expect from a government-owned organization. The big idea was simply to invite Involved Atlantic Canadians to ask Atlantic Lottery anything. Absolutely anything.

The Ask Away campaign would make Atlantic Lottery 100% accessible. It exemplified an unprecedented effort to build trust and understanding between Atlantic Lottery and Atlantic Canadians, and most importantly, it gave IACs a source of proper information and a forum to be an active participant in the dialogue. Whatever they wanted to ask, Lottery would answer. Atlantic Lottery would not try to control the conversation. Instead, it would participate in it, following the dialogue wherever people wanted it to go.

How many companies would be open to publicly encouraging their customers, or the general public, to ask them anything? Questions such as: “What do you do with your profits?,” and “Why should I trust you?”  This was an incredibly bold move, but one that demonstrated a steadfast commitment to transparency, accountability and integrity.

Stepping outside of the crown corporation comfort zone, inviting public questions and comments, whether good or bad, and making a promise to answer everything, represented a fundamental shift. An unexpected creative tone and manner also helped establish a personality for the Lottery.

a) Media Used formed the interactive campaign hub. All other media pointed back to

  • Television – 60 and 30-second
  • Print – Daily newspaper and business magazine
  • Online – Video pre-roll and display
  • Facebook – Static and poll ads

b) Creative Discussion

Involved Atlantic Canadians are frequent web users, and web presented the best opportunity for interactive exchanges. It was the only medium that could easily foster an ongoing dialogue where content, questions and stories could easily evolve and be updated as time went along. As such, became the creative hub of the integrated marketing campaign.

The creative approach hinged on starting a two-way conversation, with real questions from Atlantic Canadians being answered by real Atlantic Lottery employees, not hired talent. The authenticity of the content on was by design. It was real, largely unscripted and gathered by travelling around Atlantic Canada talking to Atlantic Canadians. Painstaking efforts were made to ensure this never became, or was perceived as, corporate propaganda.

The website’s free-flowing design allows users to navigate the site as they see fit, digging as deep as they want and exploring the stories and content they find most interesting. It put the user in control vs. “here’s how we want you to see things.” The digital quilt of interconnected stories and questions presented Atlantic Lottery in a way Atlantic Canadians had never seen before.

This rich-media approach, combined with a promise to answer everything, resonated with Atlantic Canadians. Everything was conversational, friendly and human. If it felt contrived or corporate it wasn’t right. This rule was applied to all campaign elements. [Crossover Note 18]

c) Media Discussion

Although was the campaign hub, it was not the only piece. The target audience was spread across all of Atlantic Canada. No one media channel would reach them effectively. With that in mind, an integrated media plan was developed.

Each media piece contained a key element of the Atlantic Lottery story. If readers went no further they would at least have some new knowledge about Atlantic Lottery. But all pieces also invited readers to “get to know us better” at This helped Lottery mitigate the risk of relying solely on to achieve success.

The campaign launched in June 2011 with the hub of the campaign, being the first, primary tool to launch (June 23).





June 23 onward

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick

Prince Edward Island



w/o July 11 - w/o Aug 15

w/o Oct 17 – w/o Nov 14


w/o July 4  - w/o Oct 10

w/o Oct 17 – w/o Dec 26

Online - Video Pre Roll

w/o July 18 – w/o Aug 8

w/o Oct 17 – w/o Nov 21

Online – Display Ads

w/o July 11 – w/o Aug 8

w/o Oct 17 – w/o Nov 21

Online – Facebook Ads

w/o Oct 17 – w/o Nov 21


Television – Achieved mass reach across Atlantic Canada. Phase one spots focused on building awareness of In phase two, new spots shifted to messages about public ownership and benefiting Atlantic Canadians. The TV spots were also key to establishing the warm, friendly conversational campaign tone.

Print – Involved Atlantic Canadians are heavier consumers of print. A sustained effort in daily newspapers along with insertions in key business magazine publications created an ongoing delivery of key facts throughout the first year. The print ads had detailed content, allowing the reader to gain a full understanding. They also pointed readers to for more information.

Online Video Pre-Roll and Dynamic ads - These delivered the public ownership and where the money goes (transparency) messaging, and clicked through to These ads were placed mainly in online news sites including CTV, CBC, The Chronicle Herald, Globe and Mail, Canada East and others.

Facebook – Facebook ads challenged people about how much they really knew about Atlantic Lottery and clicked through to for the complete story.

a) Sales/Share Results

The first year of this five-year campaign not only met and exceeded targets, but it was achieved within the first six months of activity. Tracking research conducted by the Gandalf Group at the end of Year One (March 2012) revealed:

  • Unfavourable opinion decreased from 38% to 34%, beating the target of 36% by two points.
  • Awareness of public ownership jumped seven points from 36% to 43%. The target was 39%.
  • Awareness of transparent reporting increased from 28% to 31%. The original objective was only a 1% increase.
  • Awareness of Atlantic Lottery’s role in providing safe & regulated gambling exceeded targets, increasing three points from 26% to 29%.


March 2011 Launch Baseline

Year One Target

(March 2012)

Year One Actual

Reduce unfavourability of Atlantic Lottery with IACs




Increase public understanding that Atlantic Lottery is a publicly owned corporation




Increase public understanding that Atlantic Lottery is transparent and honest about where its profits go




Increase public understanding that Atlantic Lottery offers safe & regulated gambling




What made the results even more significant is that they were achieved in the face of continuing media scrutiny. News stories about the CEO leaving Atlantic Lottery, and the ongoing issue of wins by Atlantic Lottery retailers, likely would have been seen by Involved Atlantic Canadians, and certainly could have moved public opinion in the wrong direction.  

On top of the awareness and opinion results, there was another extremely positive sign. A Key Performance Indicators update revealed that traffic and interaction on for June – December 2011 was very strong when compared to industry standards.

  • Time spent on the website averaged four minutes, exceeding the industry average of three minutes.
  • averaged eight pages per visit. The industry average is five.
  • The site received a total of 35,188 visits as of Dec. 2011 (60,000+ to date)
  • 328 questions were submitted, representing about 1.6% of visitors following through to an action. This compares to the 1% industry average.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

Ask Away represented an entirely new communications effort. When analyzing the campaign, there was a clear correlation between the advertising and growth in traffic and interaction on Since interaction/activity on the site was considered the best gauge of public engagement, it is reasonable to conclude that the advertising successfully drove eyes to and helped to sway public opinion.

The following chart from the December 2011 campaign performance analysis illustrates the rise in activity during the phase one (July – Aug 2011) and phase two (October – November 2011) advertising.


The only spike in web traffic not attributed to the paid advertising occurred in September 2011, when was named the Favorite Website Awards ( website of the day. This resulted in an increased amount of traffic from outside of Atlantic Canada, for a short period of time.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

Ask Away was not  incremental to other corporate reputation spending. It is simply what the corporate reputation budget for 2011 was focused on. 



Distribution Changes:


Unusual Promotional Activity:

There were no additional corporate reputation or brand promotions in market.

Other Potential Causes:

Other advertising activity – Ask Away was the only corporate advertising in market in 2011. There was nothing else that would have contributed to the decrease in negative public opinion.

Policy changes by government – There were no significant gambling policy or regulatory changes introduced by government that might have influenced public opinion.

Volume of winning – Atlantic Lottery publicizes all wins over $10,000. This is something it does every year, every time there is a win. There was no significant increase in the frequency of this messaging in 2011 that might influence positive opinion.

Community involvement/sponsorships – Atlantic Lottery sponsors hundreds of community events and organizations every year. In 2011, these sponsorships remained consistent with previous years. There was no reason to believe that community activations would influence positive opini