Ad Of The Month

Share Your Happiness

The Netherlands: Staatsloterij


Animated creatures and heartwarming stories have been a winning formula for many brands in the last decade, but few have had as much sustained success as Staatsloterij, the Dutch state lottery. In recent years the brand has promoted its New Years draw with short stories starring a dog, a hedgehog and a cat, and every one of them won a publicly voted ad award, the Gouden Louki prize.

The 2022 New Year ad was Staatsloterij’s most ambitious yet, and maybe its most original – when was the last time you saw an ad whose hero was a bird in a cuckoo clock? Wooden bird Fritsie has retreated into the depths of his clock, and his owner visits repair shops and even a vet to try to get him back out.

But the problem isn’t mechanical – Fritsie is depressed. Salvation comes when his owner goes to a cafe and the cuckoo clock on the wall chimes – suddenly Fritsie isn’t so lonely. The ad ends with the man giving the cafe waitress a lottery ticket as thanks, because happiness is better shared.

On our Test Your Ad platform, which predicts short- and long-term effectiveness of ads, the Staatsloterij commercial gets 4.6-Stars. That’s a strong performance and shows the ad has the potential to drive growth for the lottery brand. More impressive though is the Exceptional short-term Spike score – it’s unusual for such a narrative-based ad with few brand cues or messages to do so well, and it’s a testament to the creativity that the ad scores so well. Since the primary objective was to drive sales for the New Year draw, that short-term score is a big win for the brand.

What makes it so effective, though? Most lottery ads focus on the game itself – an unexpected win, or a lost ticket found. Ads like that can be very effective, but also rather predictable. Staatsloterij made the bold decision to have the lottery itself play almost no role in the narrative – a ticket appears at the beginning and the end but in between it’s not even mentioned. Instead the focus is almost entirely on the main story of the man and the cuckoo clock.

Even so that ticket is important. It sets up the final message about the joy of sharing, but more importantly it sets up the brand itself early on in the ad, giving the audience a chance to realise what they’re watching.

The other unusual thing about the ad is its emotional journey. Not the general shape of it – making sadness resolve into happiness is a common tactic. But the extremity of the sadness is very high – it’s rare for an ad to create so much heartbreak and resolve it so completely. That makes the ad more intense which in turn makes it more immediately impactful – and that creates some of the high short-term impact.

One thing agency TBWA/NEBOKO did to push that intensity higher is commission a special soundtrack – a song by HAEVN and Birdy which could stand alone as a piece of music but which had lyrics that matched the emotional beats of the ad. It’s a clever idea and the results show it’s one that definitely paid off.