Powerball Power Cruise winners from 26 U.S. lotteries will set sail on January 15, 2018 for a 5-day Western Caribbean Cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean Brillance of the Seas® to two ports of call (Key West, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico). This voyage-of-a-lifetime cruise will feature live private concerts plus the chance to win up to $150,000 in cash prizes.

Power Cruise represents a breakthrough concept for the U.S. lottery industry.  “For years, NASPL, MUSL and lottery directors have emphasized the importance of marketing our industry on a more national level.  Since Powerball is the most nationally represented product in our portfolios, it makes sense to focus on this brand,” said Alchemy3 CEO Paul Guziel. “Over the years, the industry has made attempts to join efforts in Powerball advertising and public relations. Very little has been done on the promotional front to help reinforce and strengthen Powerball as a national brand. Power Cruise was a strong first attempt at doing just that.”

National promotions like Power Cruise help lotteries to navigate turbulent waters when jackpots don’t roll. “As an industry, we have struggled with all jackpot games (especially the national brands) and how to keep them relevant during low jackpot periods,” stressed Alchemy3 President Jeffrey Schweig. “For years, lotteries have tried to design promotions with broad consumer reach/appeal. In lieu of huge jackpots, Alchemy3 knows that creating programs with an exclusive ‘money can’t buy’ reward can help keep our products top of mind. Joining with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) and creating once in a lifetime, unique prize packages delivers on our attempts to align with top quality partners.”

Kansas Lottery Executive Director Terry Presta believes Power Cruise represents “the FIRST step in promoting Powerball which is one of the nation’s strongest and most recognizable brands. Rather than simply relying on large jackpots and earned media, this is an attempt to have a coordinated marketing plan to promote our brand—and ultimately expand our market and sell more tickets.”

Power Cruise capitalizes on the strength of the well-known Royal Caribbean brand to promote the Powerball game. “For years, we have had success leveraging brands on the scratch side of our business to drive sales and engage players. Power Cruise provided us the opportunity to engage with the Powerball player base and hopefully draw in other players that were attracted to the opportunity to win a cruise trip prize,” explained Texas Lottery Executive Director Gary Grief.

National brands by their very nature have an advantage in the form of name recognition. “However, the more those brands can cross promote or improve their brand’s awareness, the better chance they have to stay relevant and grow,” said Tom Delacenserie, President & CEO, Kentucky Lottery Corp.

As an example, he cited how household names like FedEx, Heinz and Ford are NFL Stadium sponsors. They leverage the strength of their brand with another strong brand, like the NFL, to keep their identity and awareness strong in the marketplace.

“Coke Zero is another example of a strong brand partnering with another—Daytona’s Coke Zero 400. And even an iconic brand like the Wheel of Fortune game show partners with our Scratch Off tickets. Powerball Power Cruise is another way to focus and elevate name recognition for a national brand like Powerball,” he added.

Directors also agree it is imperative for lotteries to rely less on the “roll of the balls” in terms of jackpot fever and more on product promotion.

“Lotteries have no control over the size of the jackpots or the frequency of rolls,” said Grief. “Also, players may feel that the jackpot’s odds are too long and may shy away from playing at the starting jackpot levels. Product promotions such as Power Cruise can give players better chances of winning a prize while playing their favorite draw game.”

“High jackpots are great for sales when they occur, but relying on them doesn’t allow lotteries to control their destiny,” observed Delacenserie. “In other words, they are at the mercy of statistical probabilities and have no idea when they will happen.”

Reviewing KPIs

The firm worked with all 26 participating lotteries to identify various key performance indicators (KPIs) to quantify success of the program.

“We feel a promotion like this should be evaluated in more than just sales, even though we know that sales are important,” said Guziel. “Many lotteries saw a large increase in draw game player registrations, social media engagement, as well as participation from infrequent and lapsed players.”

Alchemy3 provided several digital, player and engagement KPIs. “Their Collect ‘n Win app rated #15 on the iTunes store and #10 on Google Play for free, new apps. There were 70 million+ digital impressions collected during the promotion time frame. Alchemy3 conducted a survey of 26,254 Power Cruise participants and the results showed 96% of participants would participate again. Lastly, 5.8 million+ tickets were entered in the promotion,” reported Grief.

Schweig added that 34% of the survey base indicated they were lapsed, infrequent or new players. Power Cruise had 370,000+ registered players. “There was an 11% average increase in Powerball sales (12 states reporting),” he said.

One of the key learnings from executing the Power Cruise promotion was players’ willingness to use mobile devices for lottery promotions.

“Now that we know our players are willing to engage lottery through mobile, we want to continue the momentum from the first promotion,” said Mickey Boardman, Director, Lottery Operations, Maine Lottery.

Retail involvement is also key. “Our corporate accounts offer a wonderful vehicle for maximizing both brand awareness and sales,” said Delacenserie. “Part of any promotion regarding Power Ball should include advance contact with national accounts like Wal-Mart, 7-Eleven, Circle K, Kroger, etc. Getting advance buy-in through standardized point of sale or the opportunity to offer chain-specific contest winners could go a long way toward helping to maximize the promotion.”

Power Cruise 2

The new eight-week Power Cruise 2 promotion will kick off on April 15, 2018 with the Cruise departing in early 2019.

“I hope for total state participation to rise from 26 to 30 or more,” said Presta. “We are hoping that positive feedback and digital marketing from the (then) recently completed (*January 18) Power Cruise 1 will spur additional interest and fear of missing out (FOMO). It is our hope that this will translate into more Powerball sales. Additionally, the entry on the Collect ‘n Win will be tied to the new Powerball “Winner Take All” add-on game that starts on April 15, 2018 (the same day the Power Cruise 2 promo starts).”

“Power Cruise 2 combined with the distribution of excess marketing funds from the 10X reserve fund are tailor made for a state, should they choose to participate, to successfully launch the new Winner Take All promo in their state,” added Presta. “This exciting new add on has the potential to increase excitement, capture two new draw days (Monday and Thursday), and create fun and entertainment for new players.”

Alchemy3 will structure the program and the services to help promote and drive awareness of Winner Take All to consumers. “We hope to accomplish this in a variety of ways, including a microsite, how-to-play video, mobile app, microsite banners, push messaging, and through social media,” said Schweig.

The mantra for Power Cruise 2 is Bigger! Better! More! “The execution of Power Cruise 2 will leverage all the lessons learned and the documented experience to engage with lapsed and new players,” explained Guziel. “Power Cruise 2 will feature weekly social media contests and giveaways. There will be $100,000 in additional onboard prizes and an increase of 300+ winners.”

Alchemy3 will be able to provide digital content for Power Cruise 2 by utilizing actual winners’ experiences from the first Power Cruise.

“This can include leveraging the on-board, music talent experiences and the daily cash prize drawings to illustrate the exclusive nature of this trip prize,” said Grief.

MUSL and Alchemy3 plan to ride the coat tails of the Power Cruise in January 2018 by leveraging the media, leveraging the experience and showing consumers what they can win in the second-chance promotion.

“During the five-day cruise, Alchemy3 and our partners will capture winners’ overall experience leveraging their testimonials about the adventure of a lifetime,” said Schweig. “We will document the winners’ experiences from the onboard concerts of the Goo Goo Dolls, Flo Rida and Macy Kate. We will interview the 200 winners of cash prizes and the grand prize winner of $50,000 on the final event on the last night. Lotteries will have a sizzle reel to use to promote during the promotion of Power Cruise 2.”

Alchemy3 currently has an estimated 32 lotteries interested in participating in Power Cruise 2.

“We hope to see that number grow over the next few weeks as we continue to work with MUSL in supporting consumer education and awareness of the new add-on game, Winner Take All,” said Guziel. “Planning and contracting with the 30-plus lotteries has already commenced to ensure we are ready to launch on April 15, 2018.”