La Fleur’s 2018 Austin Conference was held December 4-7, 2018 at the AT&T Hotel & Conference Center on the University of Texas-Austin campus. The theme was “Charting the Player Experience.”
The Texas Lottery is the co-host of La Fleur’s 2018 LotTECH Connect. The Gold Sponsors were Camelot Global, IGT, INTRALOT, National CineMedia (NCM), NeoPollard Interactive, Scientific Games and Worldpay Gaming. The Silver Sponsors were Abacus Solutions International, Linq3 Technologies and SCA Promotions. The Hospitality Event Sponsors were Jackpocket and LatinWorks.
Texas Lottery Executive Director Gary Grief focused on the lottery’s budget cuts and what was being implemented— “The Texas Lottery is not allowed to offer anything but traditional lottery products—instant and draw games. That said, our team has grown sales over the last 10 years from $3.7 billion to $5.6 billion, a 54% increase. For this fiscal year, we will exceed $6 billion. Over that same period, this lottery has seen significant cuts in advertising, marketing, printing costs, staff levels and effective September 1, retailer bonuses, much to the chagrin of our retailer base.
“Pick almost any budget item. Each has been cut significantly over the last 10 years. We have done a great job, with help from Kathy Pyka, our controller, in managing those cuts. For example, we have to scrimp and save to pay for a scratch ticket portfolio.
“The efforts are evident. Texas is now a $4.4 billion scratch ticket lottery. We moved past New York Lottery to get to third behind California and Florida. The goal I have set is to be the number one scratch ticket lottery in the next three years,” ended Grief.
Ryan Mindell, Lottery Operations Director, Texas Lottery provided an overview of two new non-licensed scratch family promotions—The $5 Million Vegas Challenge and the Big Cedar Cash Adventure.
Launched December 6, the $5 Million Vegas Challenge features six different price point games in a multiplier family. The promotion offers a guaranteed $1 million prize (up to $5 million) to one winner, with multiple $1 million prizes available. The Big Cedar Cash Adventure will launch May 6, 2019. It will feature four games in a Gems 7 family; 400 winners will win a trip to the Big Cedar Lodge and experience a private VIP concert.
Andrew Leeper, Brand Strategy Coordinator, Texas Lottery presented “LUCK HAPPENS: A Case Study in the Art of Scrappiness.”
In 2017, the Texas legislature reduced the Texas Lottery ad budget by 23% from $32 million to $26.4 million. This was a huge challenge considering that the Texas Lottery was already ranked 39th out of 45 U.S. Lotteries in ad budget per capita.
“With record sales goals to beat, the Texas Lottery had to really get scrappy and find creative ways to stretch the advertising budget to make sure every ad dollar was working as hard as possible,” stressed Leeper. Using a holistic approach, the Texas Lottery team developed a synergistic strategy across all platforms that built equity with every interaction and engagement. This new approach emphasized not only efficiency, but impactful creative messaging that resonated with consumers key motivations for playing lottery.
The Texas Lottery Panel focused on the rationale for experimentation. Referring to scratch families, Mindell stressed that “we are in the beginning. We are not going to do things just to do them, but we will look for more ideas that are different. Multi-jurisdictional promotions have to be big—billons of dollars or the largest cruise ship in the world. To the extent we can get there, that is the success story.”
“Executing in the field is essential,” stressed Amy Smith, Marketing Planning Coordinator at Texas Lottery. “HEB and Murphy’s Oil support us at their fuel centers, same with our relationships with the Cowboys. I think the player wants experiences, shareable moments as in Willie Wonka. There are some prizes money can’t buy.”
Experiential games help the Texas Lottery attract all demographics. “Players play for cash, but the hook is the experience,” stressed Leeper. “The one/two combo helps. You have to be a pop culture nerd to figure out what is a good second-chance experience. Having SXSW here every year helps. DoStuffNetwork curates events. They have a good pulse on what’s current. The Experential Marketing Summit is good.”
In terms of the massive ad budget cut, Leeper added “a great idea doesn’t need a million dollar budget. Another area is one-off promotions. In the age of social, we can produce content from events that radiates to a larger community.”
Tom Long, Studio Head, GoneGypsy Games, focused on “5 Secrets of Master Game Designers to Inspire Innovation.”
Long introduced and briefly reviewed five of some of the most important and practical concepts a professional game designer should know and use when producing a new game. These concepts were curated specifically for this conference audience and provided a solid action-item foundation for a lottery game’s success.