Three TV ads for the National Lottery, seen in September 2018, told the story of a family who had won a large prize on the lottery and had bought a new house.
a. The main ad, which lasted 120 seconds, began with a fisherman waking up very early in the morning to go to work while the rest of his family were asleep. His partner was shown in various scenes looking after their children. In one scene she was shown talking to a shopkeeper, who asked her, “Have you heard from Colin yet?”, to which she replied “No, you know what it’s like, with reception and everything.” She was subsequently shown in a car, saying to someone off-screen “I think it’s the right decision”. That person replied, “Are you sure”, and she said “Yeah, I think I am.” She was then shown entering a solicitor’s office.
The fisherman returned home to find the house empty, with a letter having been left for him on the mantelpiece. He was then shown running along the street before his partner opened the door of a different house and came out, saying “I bought it”. He asked, “We won?”, to which she replied, “We won”, and the pair embraced.
b. The second ad was an edited version of ad (a), which lasted 60 seconds.
c. The third ad was a more heavily edited version of ad (a) and lasted 30 seconds.
The complainants challenged whether the ads suggested that participating in a lottery could be a solution to financial concerns.
Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd said the ad was shot on location in a working fishing village and depicted a hard working family going about their daily lives before having the good fortune to win a National Lottery prize, which enabled them to buy a better home in the same village. They said the sadness conveyed by the couple in the early scenes was the product of the family’s physical separation from one another when he was at work on the fishing trawler.
Camelot explained that they had made a number of modifications and upgrades to the house that was used as the location for the family’s original home in order to ensure that its state did not imply the family were in financial difficulty. They had also ensured that the man was seen enjoying some of his time on the trawler – e.g., laughing with colleagues over breakfast – to avoid creating an impression that he did not enjoy his work and might be playing the lottery to seek an alternative to work.
Camelot explained that the woman’s trip to the solicitor was only given prominence in the longer version of the ad (ad a) and that the purpose was to introduce a sense of drama, inviting viewers to infer that the couple might be about to separate. The twist then came when the new house – the purchase of which was made possible by the lottery win – was revealed, and it became clear that the solicitor had been facilitating the purchase.
Camelot said the new home was a modest family home in the same village as the original home; indeed the two were close enough for the man to run between the two. They said such a home could be bought for a sum that would be considered fairly modest by comparison to a large lottery win and that buying a new home was one of the most common purchases for a winner of a large prize. They also pointed out that in the entrance of the new home there hung a new pair of fisherman’s overalls, which indicated that there was no intention for the man to stop working following the win. They therefore believed that they had done nothing more than represent the benefit of winning a prize, and had not suggested that participating in a lottery could be a solution to financial concerns.
Clearcast said the family were seen engaging in the everyday business of family life and work. The man was a working fisherman and there was no indication he would give up that work as a result of the family’s lottery win. The amount won was never disclosed, although it clearly enabled the family to buy a larger, more picturesque family home in their village. They believed the ad depicted a family that was hardworking and stable and did not appear to be in need of financial assistance. Whilst it showed what a lottery win could be spent on, the ad did not suggest that participating in a lottery could be a solution to financial concerns.
The ASA considered that the opening scenes of ad (a), in which the man got out of bed and left for work in the dark while his two children slept and his partner stirred, noticing his absence, immediately established that the man’s work routinely took him away from his family.
The following scenes cut between the challenges that both the man and woman faced in their everyday lives while apart. The woman was shown in a small shop with the children and although she was handed a lottery ticket by the shopkeeper no attention was drawn to the transaction. The subject of the ad was not therefore clear at the point at which the woman was shown talking with a friend about what was clearly a big decision, or when she was shown entering the solicitors office, with the result that, when the man returned from work to find the family home empty, the obvious inference was that his partner had left him. That impression was reinforced by the melancholy music that played throughout.
While various scenes were set in the family’s original home, none focused particularly on the state of the house. It appeared, in fact, to be an unremarkable family home and neither did the family’s financial security appear to be a part of the story of the ad. We considered, therefore, the implication was that the time apart was the source of the strain placed on the family, as opposed to any underlying financial concerns.
When in the final scene it was revealed that the couple had won a prize on the lottery, and that the woman had used at least some of the prize to buy a new house, the couple’s interaction suggested that they had previously discussed buying that house if they were ever to win. While we considered that the overalls hanging in the new house would likely have been overlooked by most viewers, we accepted that the new house was clearly very close to the old one, and that there was no other suggestion in the ad that the man would be able to stop working. The lottery win had allowed the family to live in a nicer house, compared to their original, unremarkable family home. Also, the family’s financial position before the lottery win did not appear to form part of the story of the ad.
We considered that the ad depicted a couple trying to balance the demands of work and raising a family. Although it highlighted the time they had to spend apart which suggested that this placed a strain on their relationship, before the “reveal” that the couple was not in fact separating but had in fact won a prize on the lottery that allowed them to upgrade the family home, it did not imply that they had financial concerns. We therefore considered that ad (a) had not implied that participating in the lottery had been a solution to financial concerns for the family featured, or that doing so could be a solution to financial concerns for others.
Ad (b) opened with the same scenes as ad (a) and while it omitted the scene in which the woman went to the solicitors, it otherwise followed the same arc as ad (a), spending less time on each of the individual scenes. While that had the effect of lessening the sense that the couple’s relationship was under strain, the overall impression of the ad was similar and for the reasons outlined above, we considered that ad (b) had not implied that participating in the lottery could be a solution to financial concerns.
Ad (c) opened with the man returning from work on the fishing trawler to find the house empty and the note on the mantelpiece, before showing him running through the streets to the new home where he was met by the woman who revealed they had won the prize and she had bought the house. Although it was clear that the man worked away from home and that he had not expected to return to an empty house, there was very little emphasis on the couple’s back story before it was revealed that they had won a prize on the lottery. As such, we considered that ad (c) had also not implied that participating in the lottery could be a solution to financial concerns.
We investigated ads (a), (b) and (c) under BCAP Code rule
suggest that participating in a lottery can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security. Advertisers may, however, refer to other benefits of winning a prize
(Lotteries), but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.