Lottery promotion 

Lottery promotion

A report from the Arkansas Lottery reveals a million-dollar winner in the first 12 weeks of lottery ticket sales. Documents for the first six weeks of lottery scratch-off ticket sales and for the second six weeks, after Powerball sales began, show a total of $1.025 million in spending on advertising, about 1 percent of gross sales.

In the first period, Sept. 14 to Oct. 19, the lottery spent $603,034, spread fairly evenly over local television outlets ($181,438), cable TV ($119,470), radio ($120,199) and newspapers ($181,927). The second period, from Oct. 26 to Dec. 6, shows $421,977, ($182,574 in local television, $119,470 in cable and $119,933 for radio).

The lottery finds itself in a somewhat awkward position on advertising. Officials want to maximize sales, but they have to be wary of targeting specific demographic groups, even if national experience indicates some might be more fertile markets. In July, lottery director Ernie Passailaigue said there would be no “targeting, racial profiling ... or anything like that.”

According to Joanna Bunten, the lottery's director of advertising and marketing, decisions on where to place advertisements are made by the commission in conjunction with its advertising partner, The Communications Group, a marketing firm based in Little Rock.

Cable television might be the best place to look for targeting

In most major cities or service areas, ads were placed on five major cable channels: ESPN, Fox News, TNT, CNN and BET (the network that targets a black market). Ads on ESPN accounted for 24 percent of spending. Fox News and TNT were tied at 21 percent. Nineteen percent of cable advertising dollars went to CNN and BET accounted for 10 percent.

Spending varied according to service area. For example, in El Dorado and Jonesboro, only 10 percent of the cable television advertising budget went to BET. But in Pine Bluff, which has a larger minority population, that figure was 36 percent.

Rich Huddleston, executive director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said, “I think it's safe to say that the demographics for BET, both in terms of race and income, are not as broad as those other sources and would definitely be an effort to target minorities.”


Hitting the trail

Lots of different groups in Central Arkansas enjoy using the River Trail, including cyclists, walkers, joggers and hikers. Well, now you can add one more group to that list — equestrians.

An e-mail sent from North Little Rock parks and recreation director Bob Rhoads to bicycle groups last week notified cyclists that a stretch of the River Trail on the north side of the Arkansas River would be shared with horseback riders. It's part of an effort to link parts of the River Trail with mountain bike and horse trails in Burns Park.

“The area that will be jointly used will be the Hooper Crossing Bridge between North Shore and the Isabella Jo Trails,” Rhoads wrote. “The area will be marked and for everyone's safety bicycles should yield to the horses.”

Rhoads also notes that equestrian groups have been advised to clean up “any horse droppings on the Hooper's Crossing Bridge or the paved areas they cross.”

Tom Ezell, education chairman for Bicycle Advocacy for Central Arkansas, says the biggest conflict “between hikers and bikers and horses is the stuff that horses leave behind.”

But Ezell said the shared portion of the trail has always been planned, and doesn't think sharing the bridge will cause too many problems. He says that riders and cyclists will simply have to be careful.


Lindsey's good deal

At a meeting this week with the Board of the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, the system's director, George Hopkins, lamented a lending contract with Springdale real estate magnate Jim Lindsey that mandated a five-year renewal of $21.9 million in loans on apartment projects at the super-low interest rate of 3.44 percent. ATRS normally would be looking for a rate of more than 7 percent on such loans, Hopkins said.

Lindsey, a former Razorback football player with extensive political ties,  entered the loan agreement 10  years ago for $32 million in loans on eight apartment projects. It was a time when the system, then led by Bill Shirron, was getting into a lot of Arkansas real estate deals. Hopkins emphasized that Lindsey is a proven operator and a reliable borrower, but he said he'd never recommend such a deal for ATRS again. He said any lending arrangement that called for an automatic renewal at a rate tied to an economic indicator would have to include an interest rate floor to insure a minimum return for ATRS in a declining market. Lindsey's deal had no such floor. He paid 7 percent until the 10-year agreement came up for an automatic renewal for five years .

Hopkins said he'd visited Lindsey in an attempt to renegotiate the loan. “He indicated he was happy with his deal,” Hopkins said.

Said Hopkins: “That rate is not a happy one for ATRS. Unfortunately it was an automatic renewal at 109 basis points above the 5-year Treasury rate at the renewal. ATRS would never have voluntarily accepted that rate. If ATRS uses an automatic interest-setting mechanism in the future, I can assure you the rate will have a floor set to protect ATRS. It was contractually set years ago and ATRS was bound by its terms. The rate sure makes LPM look smart and vice versa. At least ATRS is publicly addressing such issues.”



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