Wins, winning and winners: The commercial advertising of lottery gambling

Abstract

This study analyzed a sample of 920 lottery ads that were placed or played in Atlantic Canada from January 2005 to December 2006. A content analysis, involving quantitative and qualitative techniques, was conducted to examine the design features, exposure profiles and focal messages of these ads and to explore the connections between lottery advertising and consumer culture. We found that there was an "ethos of winning" in these commercials that provided the embedded words, signs, myths, and symbols surrounding lottery gambling and conveyed a powerful imagery of plentitude and certitude in a world of potential loss where there was little reference to the actual odds of winning. The tangible and emotional qualities in the ads were especially inviting to young people creating a positive orientation to wins, winning and winners, and lottery products that, in turn, reinforced this form of gambling as part of youthful consumption practices. We concluded that enticing people with the prospects of huge jackpots, attractive consumer goods and easy wins, showcasing top prize winners, and providing dubious depictions that winning is life-changing was narrow and misleading and exploited some of the factors associated with at-risk gambling.

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