Mad Men | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mad Men

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2009 at 10:14 AM

As predicted here yesterday, the competition for the state lottery marketing contract is down to the Communications Group and the Ramey Agency. Capsearch Twittering indicates the Communications Group has slapped down the Arkie card: "We are the only full service Arkansas agency here today."

The Ramey Agency is based in Jackson, Miss., but it has an office here. It also has owners here. Perhaps you've heard of the Stephens family?

Objections have been filed to the process that excluded four applicants from consideration for the contract. A key requirement was a record of significant net profits in two of the last three years. At least one applicant was a startup.

Gerard Matthews has more on the jump.

This morning's presentations were given before four lottery staff members.  Procurement director for the lottery, Bishop Woosley, said he could not give the names of the four staff members because he did not want them to be contacted about the contracts.  Staff Attorney Bridgette Frazier was one of the four. 

Judging by the strength of the presentations and the reactions of the lottery panel, it seems the Communications Group has the upper hand.  As previously mentioned they continuously touted their Arkansas roots, including their partnership with JM productions.  JM was founded by Jerry McKinnis and is one of ESPN's largest content providers of outdoor programming.  After the Ramey presentation, most of the questions revolved around just how many staff members the agency planned to keep in Arkansas.  Brian Clark, managing officer for the Mississippi-based agency said Ramey planned to move more staff to Arkansas and would receive support from Advantage Communications, a Little Rock agency led by Michael Steele, brother of state senator Tracy Steele.  Currently, Clark is the only Ramey staff member based in the state. 

Both agencies talked about target audiences, naming adults ages 25-54 as the key group.  Lottery officials have gone on record saying that advertisements for the lottery should not be targeted toward specific demographic groups since studies have shown that minorities and the poor are more likely to play the lottery frequently.   Lottery staff questioned how certain audiences would be targeted, saying that the commission was very sensitive to the issue. 

Ramey representatives replied that they would not target particular groups but reach out to the entire state.  Steele added that the agency would work to craft mesages that target everyone.  However, during their presentation, representatives from the Ramey agency specifically pointed out that 54 percent of lottery players are African American and mentioned targeting media to certain cable outlets like CMT and BET (read: rednecks and blacks).      

Both agencies presented examples of possible logos, print advertiesements and billboards.  The Communications Group also offered examples of radio and television promotions.  A spokesman for the Communications Group presented a letter from the Arkansas Broadcasters Association recommending the Communications Group for the contract.  After the presentations, a spokesman for Ramey said the letter did not amount to an endorsement and was insignificant. 

Representatives from both agencies were prevented from discussing specifics with the media after their presentations.  Woosley said the lottery commission would not have much to say about the contracts until after they had been awarded.  Now the presentations will be evaluated and scored individually by the lottery staff.  Those scores will then be tallied by Woosley.  Once a decision has been made, a recommendation will be presented to the lottery commission and that could come as early as tomorrow. 

-Gerard Matthews

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