18 December 2000
And still no one is sure who has won. Legal battles in their wake, the two titans still fight for the ultimate prize. Amid allegations of bias, shady backroom deals and political machinations, the two candidates await their fate, and the public, knowing full well that they will probably never really notice the difference, yawns.
Yes, the battle for the right to run that great British institution, the Lottery, is still being fought. Rumours abound that the National Lottery commissioners have made their choice between Sir Richard-I'm-only-in-it-for-the-good-works-Branson's the People's Lottery on one side, and (all together now children - boo, hiss) Camelot on the other. By the time you read this, the victor and the vanquished may have been decided and the obituaries written.
What is sure is that the Lottery chairman will have been in close contact with at least some of The Lawyer's readers to make sure he is not left facing any fresh legal challenges when the decision is made. After all, his political bosses want to make sure that the Lottery is alive and well during the election campaign, and the changeover is already six months behind schedule.
News emerged last week that Camelot is determined to start afresh if it wins the licence again. In true Winscale/Seascale/Sellafield fashion, the company believes it can shed its folk devil image with a quick corporate makeover.
Although it denies that its rampant lion logo connotes "fat cat", the brand managers in the company have decided to commission a new corporate logo. This is not a new creative for the ad campaigns, but for the company's corporate position, its stationary and presumably its famously generous letters of appointment.
Of course, Camelot has not had an easy ride during its custody of the National Lottery. The leaking of 90 per cent pay rises for its top execs in 1997 tarred the company permanently with the fat cat image. Attempts to reposition the company as guardian of the world's "best run lottery" failed to shift the idea that this purely commercial business was milking the gamers (and by implication the "good causes") dry.
Parallels are regularly drawn between the world of industry and that of the law. As firms become more businesslike and mature as an industry, managers and particularly marketeers look to their more experienced colleagues in industry for lessons.
Your clients might be drawing parallels between "fat cat" Camelot and the modern law firm. While they might sign off those billable hours, it might be with gritted teeth and a sarcastic aside to a colleague. Truth does not matter here - we're talking image. Your's might be the world's "best run law practice", but if the perception is tainted, all it will take is one "massive pay rise" at one firm to tar the whole City.
The problem, and doubtless Camelot will find this, is that redrawing the logo does not remake the relationship. That takes sensitivity to the audience, openess and more listening than lecturing. Most of it depends on a history of straight dealing and marketing based on real experience rather than sound bites. Camelot's distance from its audience and dependence on its monopoly position and sexy ads left it exposed when the scandal hit the fan. It is now forever condemned to play catch-up.
The scandal and backlash has not hit the City, but it will, and only those businesses which have strong relationships with their clients will weather it. Marketing is about preserving business relationships as much as it is about getting new ones.