Anatomy of a hit: How Adam&EveDDB crafted the National Lottery’s LGBT masterpiece

When it was first released in June this year, the National Lottery’s bold celebratory look back on its 29 years in existence proved perhaps much more impactful than it ever truly intended it to be.

Coming just over 50 years after the first official Pride event in the UK, the film’s star couple illustrates in a very real way the struggle that gay men have gone through to find great societal acceptance over the last 30 years.

“If we’re really honest, we didn’t set out to go: “right, we’re going to release a campaign in June and it’s going to have some gay guys in it. The whole point of the brief was simply to embrace these people who had played the National Lottery for 25 years,” Camelot head of marketing communications, Anna McInally said, speaking as a panellist at Outvertising Live.

“We call them our tenacious dreamers, not believers – who never give up on hope. We wanted to think not just about the hope of winning, but the hope of life and what the world can do if you just believe and have optimism.”

Interestingly, Adam&EveDDB had originally intended for the couple to be heterosexual, but that audience screenings had flagged it up as “too conventional” and rather dull.

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This was naturally a key factor in the hit ad’s development, as Adam&Eve DDB planning director, Stuart Williams explains: “What that did was give us the confidence to rethink how we felt about that story, and not go to the classic tropes of boy meets girl, and instead find a more interesting way into that. And so as a gay man myself, I was very keen to turn it into a gay story.”

Crucially, even though the story was eventually developed by a creative made up solely of straight men, they could draw upon the lived experiences of Williams to create the touchingly authentic narrative that has made the ad so popular – and given it such a broad appeal.

According to Wiliams, the agency even built up a panel of “middle aged gay men” to help guide the team towards the “key moment” that make the ad’s ambitious thirty-year series of vignettes – examining the defining images in the lives of a couple that we are all able to relate to – whatever our gender or sexuality.

The ad’s success lie primarily in this ability to transcend identity barriers and give us what it to all intents and purposes a uniquely universal love story, ingeniously entwined with each lover’s undying passion for one another (and of course the National Lottery.)

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