WElcome back, willie
When the Arizona Lottery was born in the early 1980’s, they used an illustrated miner character named Windfall Willie as a logo and mascot (he was a real hit with the kids). Then, after a rebrand in the mid 2000’s, Willie was removed in an attempt to “modernize” the brand. Well, when we got our hands on the account we decided that Willie deserved a second coming. We brought the old prospector back to life as a living, breathing (and screaming) spokesman and Chief Fun Officer.
Windfall Willie is back in Arizona, and he has brought back endless amounts of fun from his travels.
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Welcome back, willie (TV)
As a then Jr. Copywriter on this campaign, I was fortunate enough to play a big role in reviving Windfall Willie. I developed a fun and kinetic script to really bring this new character to life. One of the best parts about working on this initial spot was finding the perfect actor to play Willie. Thank god we were working with Alex Grossman who made us pay very close attention to John Ennis (who just so happened to be on two of my favorite TV shows: “Mr. Show” and “Frasier”). John was the perfect fit from the first audition. I’m happy to say he’s still working with us as Windfall Willie 1.5 years later.
The second best part about working on this first spot was casting Willie’s sidekick, Derek. We ended up going with my best friend and long-time comedy partner, Michael Margetis. Like John, we knew he was the perfect fit from the second he opened up his mouth in auditions.
With the introduction of this new character, we were able to expand the Lottery’s voice to match Willie’s: fun, cheeky and a little sardonic.
To make the most out of this campaign, we recorded some additional TV spots to further introduce Willie as the “new” Chief Fun Officer. and scare the shit out of people, too. We also wrote a “how to play” video featuring a whole bunch of “Willie-isms” that really brought the character to life. and taught people a thing or two!
With radio, I really wanted to play around with Willie and Derek as a new “duo” in the market. Derek isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, which made writing radio for these two so much fun. Plus, the two comedians play off each other so naturally which made the recording session even better.
Interestingly enough, Willie and Derek would actually go on to become superheroes in our Stocking Stuffers campaign a few months later.
In order to show Willie’s worldliness, we sent handmade wooden crates (that appeared to have traveled around the globe from one of Willie’s destinations) to a variety of journalists, bloggers and writers of all backgrounds across Arizona and the rest of the country.
Inside each crate was a personalized letter, a copy of Windfall Willie’s passport, Arizona-Lottery-branded chocolate coins and playing cards, some vintage postcards from Arizona, a unique wooden game and a custom-printed replica of the first-ever Scratchers ticket from the Arizona Lottery.
This was no ordinary ticket, though. What writers found beneath the small silver shavings was a password that could be used on the secret landing page, “WilliesBeard.com”, that gave them access to all of the upcoming TV spots produced by OH Partners.
Not long after, the buzz of Willie’s return was heard all throughout Arizona. The press kits helped launch one of the biggest marketing campaigns in Arizona Lottery history and solidified Windfall Willie as the new face of the brand.
WElcome back, willie When the Arizona Lottery was born in the early 1980’s, they used an illustrated miner character named Windfall Willie as a logo and mascot (he was a real hit with the kids).