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A state lottery runs many different advertising campaigns throughout the year for various promotions and new games; however, the lottery develops one “master brand” campaign that carries over to all advertising. With their agency, they had developed four potential TV ads and desired consumer input to decide which one to move forward with.

The lottery wanted to ensure the ad it moved forward with was not only appealing to consumers, but also that it effectively got the desired message across, grabbed consumers’ attention, and made them feel more positive and optimistic toward the lottery. And, since they were debating a handful of potential taglines to go along with the spots, they wanted to understand consumer reactions to those as well – in the context of the ads being evaluated.

The research team developed an online survey that incorporated facial coding to capture an in-depth evaluation of the ads to determine the final version for air.


A state lottery needed to determine which of four different TV ad campaigns to move forward with, as the basis for its “master brand” campaign. They wanted to go beyond a standard ad evaluation to include an understanding of emotional reactions to the ads. But, they didn’t want to rely solely on consumers’ self-reported reactions to the ads; they desired a way to measure emotions while respondents viewed the ads.

Lastly, the team had developed a handful of potential taglines that could be used with any of the ads and wanted to understand which fit best not only with the lottery, but also with each of the spots being tested.


Through the research, the team learned that all of the ads were very strong (and they performed similarly in many areas). However, between stated measures in the survey and facial coding evaluation, one of the ads was determined to have a slight edge over the others, particularly when it came to appeal, being entertaining and heartwarming, as well as garnering stronger attention throughout.

While two of the potential taglines fit well with the strongest ad, only one of them also fit well with the lottery overall – so it was determined to be the winner, as it also left consumers feeling hopeful about the potential to win.

On the flip side, the facial coding portion of the exercise also identified some slight confusion at points (which did not come through explicitly in closed-ended measures). A combination of the facial coding findings and verbatim comments indicated that there was potential to strengthen the winning spot even further with more explicit connection to the games offered by the lottery.

Our client used these results to finalize the TV spot that is now in-market and is the basis of all its current campaigns.


An online survey was conducted among past year players of the state lottery, where each respondent evaluated one of the four ads in detail.
At the onset, respondents were asked to participate in a facial coding exercise, where they enabled their webcam prior to viewing the ad for the first time. This resulted in a subset of those who evaluated each spot also going through the facial coding exercise, via our partner Realeyes. Through facial coding, we were able to see respondents’ emotions as well as attention as they viewed the ads. Emotions included things such as happiness, surprise, engagement, and confusion; and attention measured not only whether they were paying attention, but also the quality of attention throughout the spot.

On top of the facial coding exercise, standard copy testing measures were asked via a survey – appeal, likes/dislikes, message recall, attention grabbing, uniqueness, relevance, etc. And, the survey was rounded out with a ranking exercise to understand perceptions of the potential taglines’ fit with not only the specific spot evaluated, but also with the state lottery overall.

Each of the four spots were compared across all aspects of the study to determine which one spot was strongest, as well as where there were potential areas for improvement. Quotes were used to enhance these findings and bring them to life for the lottery and agency as they made their final decisions.