Whatever your reason, SickKids Lottery just wants you to play

Who: SickKids Foundation, with Cossette, OPC Production (Ella + Michael directing) and OMD Canada for media.

What: “Play for the kids or play for the prizes—just as long as you play,” a campaign for the SickKids Lottery utilizing a more brand-centric approach. It’s the Foundation’s biggest lottery campaign in recent years in terms of tickets, acquisition, retention metrics and platform investment. While Cossette has a longstanding relationship with SickKids Foundation, this is its first time working directly on the lottery.

When & Where: The campaign launched this week, running until mid-September across TV, radio, out-of-home, email, direct response and paid social. It also includes a partnership with Rogers Sports & Media that will include on-air mentions across the media company’s various properties and platforms. SickKids has also introduced a lottery membership program that enables those purchasing tickets to sign up to auto-register for future lotteries.

Why: SickKids Foundation totally reinvented its brand with the 2015 introduction of the “SickKids VS” platform, and this is an attempt to apply that approach to the lottery, shifting away from the emphasis on “cash and cars” that has characterized prior efforts. The lottery is a major contributor to SickKids Foundation’s annual fundraising efforts, accounting for nearly $26 million in revenue. The Foundation is also in the home stretch of its ambitious $1.5 billion fundraising campaign to build a new hospital.

The objective of the new campaign is to differentiate the SickKids lottery in a crowded category, said Cossette’s executive creative director, Craig McIntosh. “If you look at a lot of the charity lotteries that are out there, it’s really tough to distinguish who’s who,” he said. “They all have big homes and fine cars. SickKids said ‘Let’s do something different and shake it up a bit.'”

“Having built a powerful brand platform with the development of the “VS” campaign over the past few years, we recognized an opportunity to extend that strength into the lottery program,” added Heather Clark, senior vice-president of mass, direct and digital marketing at SickKids Foundation. “This gave us the opportunity not only to build upon our success, but also to really stretch the VS platform into new, more lighthearted, places.”

How: Among the first things that Cossette’s creative team uncovered during its research was that charity lotteries all tend to take a tactical approach to their marketing, eschewing anything conceptual in nature.

Digging further, Cossette discovered that SickKids lottery players have two primary motivations for participating: Some do it solely because they believe in the cause, while others are motivated by the high-end prizes and good odds of winning.

That led to a creative approach designed to speak to both groups, including a double-sided brochure (pictured).

Both 30-second TV spots feature lottery participants speaking earnestly about the importance of the lottery to SickKids—though they’re also clearly excited by the prospect of winning prizes.

In “Captain” a man is shown piloting a boat, while telling viewers he knew he had to play the SickKids Lottery after learning that every ticket sale makes a difference. The spell is broken when his wife opens the garage door, which has been painted to resemble the sea, and we see that his schooner, “Happy Buoy III,” is actually a bathtub.

In “Sweet Ride,” a couple is sitting on their couch pretending to drive down a road, while an artists paints them in a car. They talk about the good things that come from buying a SickKids Lottery ticket, before admitting they also really want to win a car.

The directing team of Ella + Michael has a knack for capturing great improv performances, said McIntosh. While the spots were scripted, the directors also gave the actors a lot of leeway to come up with their own approach. “They had a lot of fun with the scenario,” said McIntosh. “They just ran with it.”

Any reservations about a more humour-led approach? “Knowing the humour and overall strategy was a departure from where we have been in the past with the ‘VS’ platform, we were very cognizant about getting input from a wide variety of stakeholder groups in advance of launching,” said Clark. “The response from them was lovely, recognizing how this campaign still highlighted all the amazing reasons to play the SickKids Lottery, but also gave us an opportunity to highlight SickKids patients and their stories.”

And we quote: “While it is a departure from what people may have seen from the ‘VS’ platform in the past, we feel it really demonstrates how deep and broad the platform can be… However the creative still feels really true to the essence of the VS platform—it’s powerful and confident and at the centre of it all are SickKids patients and their stories.” — Heather Clark, senior vice-president of mass, direct and digital marketing, SickKids Foundation

Chris Powell