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‘Lost a bet’ campaign suffers from jarring contrast

Published January 23, 2014 at 6:44 am

If there’s ever been a better illustration of the importance of tone in your advertising, it can be seen in a new anti-gambling campaign. The Ohio Lottery Commission is apparently trying to step things up to spread the word about the dangers of gambling addiction, but its video strategy may seem a little misshapen to some.

One of the videos leading this initiative starts out mock-serious, with “Dies Irae” thundering on the soundtrack and a slow-motion scene of a pudgy man ribbon-dancing in women’s workout clothes. Another begins with similar absurdity, showing a man dressed as a dog getting hit by a woman’s purse in an elevator.

“I Lost A Bet,” the formal name and mantra of the campaign, then flashes on the screen.

But then the scene transitions into serious testimonials with gamblers looking straight into the camera and describing problems with gambling and how it can upset and ruin the rhythms of someone’s life. The approach seems to have been a success so far and harnessed social media attention, at least according to marketing director Sandy Lesko Mounts.

“In the first two days 7,000 people visited for more than a minute,” Mounts told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

However, it’s possible that the abrupt transition between the “humorous” and “serious” parts of the ads might be confusing and awkward.

Sometimes public service announcements and ads for social problems can be memorable for this shocking sort of approach: some famous examples include the Ad Council’s ‘Gopher Cakes’ commercial commercial or, more recently, Mercedes Benz’ creepy anti-texting ads.

But while being shocking can be effective, it needs to mesh with the entire tone of the ad so the viewer doesn’t lose the message.



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