'Magical' Lotto Powerball ad broke no rules - ASA

A scene from the Lotto ad (Lotto/YouTube)
A scene from the Lotto ad (Lotto/YouTube)

A complaint about Lotto's recent TV advertisement showing a group of siblings finding gold bars and a winning ticket left behind by their deceased mother has been dismissed.

The complainant, H Lynch, said the ad "would seem to trigger an emotional contact with gambling", but the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) disagreed, calling it a "magical story told in an inoffensive way".

In the 90-second commercial for Lotto New Zealand's Powerball competition developed by ad agency DDB, a young woman is seen reminiscing about her mother. Now all grown up, she and her brothers dig beneath the washing line their back yard, where they find a photograph of mum, a Powerball ticket and bars of gold.

But at least one viewer wasn't impressed.

"It seems wrong to be able to advertise the hope of changing people's life with something as triggering as the loss of a parent and something as completely unlikely as winning Lotto," the complainant wrote.

Lotto fired back, telling the ASA there was "no indication that the finding of the gold bars and Lotto ticket have relieved the children of that difficulty".

It also suggested the gold wasn't even bought with the Powerball ticket, saying mum might have included it "as a surprise harking back to their childhood treasure hunts".

"The advertisement shows that the family had a happy and fulfilling life without the benefit of the Lotto winnings, which were set aside for the future rather than used to relieve financial difficulty or to provide the children with material wealth as they grew up," Lotto said. "In our submission the treatment is sensitive and heart-warming, and is not in bad taste."

The ASA sided with Lotto, calling the Powerball ticket "incidental" and the handling of the mother's death was done "tastefully", without breaching any standards.

Lotto's previous long-form TV ad, also developed by DDB, had detractors too. In it, an elderly man wins Powerball and together with his grandson, surprises his son with a pirate ship.

A complainant told the ASA it "makes gambling into a thing that is good to do because look at the dreams it can fulfil".

The ASA said it "was fantastical and hyperbolic in nature" and wouldn't convince anyone it was possible to "win dreams"