For the past two years, Iowans—and the rest of the country—have been on standby, cooped up inside. They’ve been bursting with the urge to get out of the house. So with restrictions lessened, the marketing and product staff at the Iowa Lottery wanted to help welcome folks back to the outside world with a new initiative. They designed “Explore Iowa,” a $5 instant ticket launched on May 3. It is the cornerstone of their summer marketing campaign in partnership with other state agencies.
The game encourages players to go outside and see everything Iowa has to offer. But Iowa is a big place, with nearly 56,000 square miles of land. The Lottery needed to help players quickly get from one end of the state to the other. “We’re asking people to ‘Think Outside,’” Larry Loss, Executive VP & COO, Iowa Lottery, said, referencing the Polaris brand tagline. “Everything we’re promoting is tied to outside activities, and that ties in with Polaris.”
Polaris, an Alchemy3 property, is among the country’s leading producers of ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, boats, and more. It was an excellent fit for the game because Iowa is a four-season state. “Alchemy3 and Polaris have really gotten behind what we were trying to do and how we’re using the brand in our ticket,” Loss said.
Jeffery Schweig, President, Alchemy3, expanded on that thought.
“To use the Polaris brand with a push to get players outside to explore their state illustrates the Lottery’s ingenuity. It is a perfect partnership,” Schweig said.
It was critical to Loss and the lottery team that the partnership with Alchemy3 would maximize the return on their investment. “How can we use the equity we’re buying with the Polaris brand in more than one dimension?” Loss asked.
The Lottery turned to a local Polaris dealership to help generate excitement for the new game. After a brief negotiation, the dealership agreed to transport various Polaris vehicles to three events at no cost. The
Lottery is using the dealership’s name and logo on point-of-sale marketing and promotional items. The vehicles are helping to create high-profile hands-on displays for players. “We get to promote our products together. It is a win-win for both of us,” Loss explained. “They were excited to do it. When you put the package together, and everybody sees how the relationship supports the goals of everyone involved, then it really comes together nicely.”
Broad Appeal Strategy
The Lottery wanted ‘Explore Iowa’ to appeal to a broad audience, evident in the ticket’s design. The marketing team printed three scenes, each showcasing either an ATV, snowmobile or a Slingshot. “There are a lot of different ways to explore Iowa. Here’s a chance to win a Polaris vehicle that lets you explore it the way you would like,” Loss said.
Each ticket scene also includes a map of a different part of Iowa in the background. “You’ve got something representing the west, the center, and the east side of Iowa,” Loss said. “The art reflects both urban and rural areas. And we tried to have more seasons across the ticket from spring through to winter.”
To further enhance the game’s appeal to the broadest possible audience, the Lottery chose to award Polaris vehicle prizes via a gift ‘voucher,’ giving winners a choice. “It’s a new wrinkle compared to giving away a specific vehicle. We felt it was important to let people have the flexibility to pick out the type of vehicle that they wanted,” Loss said.
The Lottery’s strategic logic is also apparent in the game’s TV and social media advertising. The Lottery will film its spokesperson exploring Iowa’s various popular outdoor locations around the state throughout the summer. It’ll use this footage to update ads and posts. The Lottery is also engaging social media influencers who will post about their favorite places in the state. “Knowing that we’re talking about exploring all different areas of Iowa, it makes sense to film in different locations,” Loss said.
To help extend the influence of the new game even further, the Lottery is working with other state agencies to create some fun and mutually beneficial buzz. For instance, the Tourism Office’s 2022 campaign slogan is ‘Year of the Road Trip.’ “That is basically ‘Exploring Iowa’ in a different manner. So, working with them gives us access to images and videos for our marketing materials. And, it lets us market our product through their informational channels,” Loss said. “All of these state agencies have a vested interest in promoting the state, and we can all bundle our efforts together to do the best job of promoting Iowa that we can.”
“When you’re crafting promotions like this, how do you make it a win-win-win?” Loss ended. “When it all comes together, you’ve got a good game. With this ticket, everyone won.”