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Industry Lottery & Gambling, Business equipment & services, Corporate Image
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market South Korea
Released July 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Corporate Responsibility
Product/Service: LOTTERY TICKETS
President & Chief Executive Officer: HS Chung (Synergy Hill & Knowlton)
Senior Vice President: CH Lee (Synergy Hill & Knowlton)
Vice President: Justin Woo (Synergy Hill & Knowlton)
Account Director: Lydia Eum (Synergy Hill & Knowlton)
Media placement: Website To Recruit Volunteers - - August 2009

Summary of the Campaign
The Lottery Commission in Korea puts 40% of revenue back into community projects, but its good work gets lost in a negative public perception of the industry. Reinventing the Korean Lottery Commission’s poor public image by communicating a positive story about charity was not enough. However, recognising that Korean society values volunteerism, a solution presented itself. By reframing the concept of "donating" as a valuable and approachable activity for all, communication of the Commission’s altruistic activities would attract greater appreciation from the public. Through partnerships with credible welfare agencies, the Commission’s 'Sharing Your Talents' website was launched to encourage ordinary citizens to donate their time and talents to those in need. The campaign quickly grew into a cultural movement attracting over 100,000 participants nationwide, earning millions of dollars in positive media coverage and reshaping the Commission’s public image. Within one year a Gallup poll showed that the negative perception of lotteries had declined by 12%, the five-year fall in sales was reversed, and the campaign was honoured by the Finance Ministry for 'contributing to economic development and social unification'. Even though the campaign ended in January, more than 100 volunteers still sign up every day.

The Goal

To create a positive image by stepping away from an association with gambling, and reframing lottery purchase as a form of donation, while highlighting that the Commission was giving back to the community. However, research showed that 'donation' was not a strong enough message. Korean society was still uncomfortable with its rapid economic rise in little time, creating a society unfamiliar with donation on an individual level. Research also revealed that volunteer agencies lacked the framework to recruit. The challenge and opportunity was to re-define Korea’s perception of donation while creating a culture of giving based on time and talent.

Measurable results included a PR effect valued at 60 times the USD 68,000 budget and an unprecedented surge in volunteerism. The campaign attracted over 100,000 volunteers and earned USD 7 million worth of positive coverage, prompting the national media to describe donation as a rising national trend. For the Commission this meant a rejuvenated public image. A Gallup poll in January 2010 showed the negative perception of lotteries had decreased by 12% from the previous year. A 5-year decline in lottery sales was also reversed with the first on-year increase since 2004 with sales of USD 1.25 billion in 2009. The campaign was also honored by the Finance Ministry for 'contributing to economic development and social unification'. The Commission benefits from ongoing goodwill after the cause was taken on by an influential newspaper - attracting around 100 new volunteers daily. Although the campaign ended in January, the energy for volunteerism in Korea continues.

The first step in creating a nationwide charity movement was to recruit credible partners. By working alongside the Korea Volunteers Federation, its network of welfare agencies was utilised and garnered goodwill for the Commission. With support established, the website was launched in August 2009 and to drive visitors, a variety of communication channels were used, most notably online banner links which capitalised on the country’s high Internet penetration and the online nature of the campaign. We also reached out to university students, a key group of potential volunteers, through offline promotional events and analysed donator databases to target suitable endorsers. Once public interest began to take off, the scope of volunteerism was expanded from general services like hairstyling to professional services including law. Government agencies and grassroots charities, such as the Welfare Ministry, were also brought on board to build on the early momentum and buzz.

The Situation
As the regulator of the country’s lottery industry, the Korean Lottery Commission had long suffered from a cynical public that associated playing the lottery as gambling, and gambling as corruption. Despite its efforts to reform the lottery landscape and boost transparency, awareness of the Commission’s achievements and extensive charitable work remained low. The Commission's public persona needed to be transformed and its altruistic activities highlighted - albeit carefully. Increasing the Commission's recognition and visible participation in community programmes, was only one part of the challenge, in a country that had yet to embrace a personal culture of donation.

The Strategy
The solution was to create a public culture of donation which the Commission could effectively be associated with. Merely communicating that the Commission returned 40% of its revenue to the community was not a powerful enough message to a nation which viewed charity as an expected corporate activity. To connect with the public and convert this statistic into a meaningful message that would resonate with individuals, a grassroot-level campaign was launched to promote the idea of donating time and talent, rather than money. In this way, the concept was redefined and thrust into the national consciousness at a level that would highlight the Commission's charitable programmes, without merely boasting of their financial input. By developing an accessible website where people could volunteer their skills and be matched with local welfare agencies, these respected bodies would not only help legitimize the campaign but also boost the Commission’s own credibility.