Don't stop believin'

States employ clever, memorable lottery slogans for both branding and cultural identity purposes.

Don't stop believin'

Within the U.S., each of the 50 states, in addition to the District of Columbia, prides itself on having unique identities for which it has become well known.

So it only goes to reason that each of the 45 (as well as District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) currently participating in the lottery would, in addition to encouraging play, craft a distinct image around their state's games.

Though the state of origin may not always be as memorable as the slogan itself, the choice of wording and/or the tone of the messaging tends to showcase a stronger correlation.

And nothing does this better than a memorable tagline. Who can forget, “Somebody's gotta win, might as well be you” (KY) or “Don't forget to play” (CO)?

For example, take the following reference to Louisiana's Lottery: “Play it Cool.” While the temps may be hot, the image one conjures up is that of a savvy lottery player - one who is just taking their time, strolling through life, and scoring big wins.

In contrast, over time, the State of Oregon has used a variety of laid-back phrases, such as “It's gravy, baby” and “Play Time.”

And then there are the catchy urbane phrases that offer license to dream, “Anything's Possible” (IL) and “Hey, You Never Know” (NY)— both of which are presented as broad-sweeping 'what if's whereby the player has nothing to lose by buying a ticket.

By floating the idea of hope, lotteries are helping to sell tickets by reinforcing the idea that anything is possible.

“The lottery is a way to raise the ceiling on what can happen to you,” says George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon.

Give your dreams a chance!” is New Jersey's slogan of choice, and it's quite appropriate as it reinforces the idea that it doesn't hurt to try and that sometimes it's a good idea to take a risk and venture outside your comfort zone.

And, taking the 'dream theme' one step further, the State of Arizona says that it's not enough to dream. You've got to “Dream Big, to Win Big.”

Perhaps though what may very well be the most memorable of all lottery taglines, “You Gotta be In It To Win It” (NC), continues to be used and repurposed so many times because it alludes to the idea that standing on the sidelines may be the safe option, but to really experience a game or life “Get in the Game” (NH), you need to be a participant rather than an onlooker.

Regardless of whether we're talking about the lottery or life, in general, many of the same philosophies apply: repeated efforts produce results, always remain hopeful “Today Could Be the Day” (GA), and share the wealth - a sentiment imparted by NY's declarative, “Raising billions to educate millions.”

Yet, rather than for altruistic purposes, we, as players, sometimes simply look to the lottery for a brief respite from the everyday. “Have a Ball” offers Illinois' one-time slogan while Rhode Island encourages us to play it hip — “Dreams Rock.”

Though we have been focusing on state-specific lotteries, on the national front, both the multi-state games, Mega Millions and Powerball, also benefit from the familiarity and cleverness of such taglines as: “Believe in something bigger” (slogan used to help launch Powerball in CA) and “Hey, you never know” (NY's catchphrase for all its lottery games including Mega Millions).

Broad-sweeping statements help motivate people to play with friendly reminders that there is always a chance that today could be your lucky day. And, when in the throes of a trying day, who wouldn't want a little glimmer of possibility?

In an informal, observational kind of way, one could surmise that the catchy slogans of state lotteries serve the valuable purpose of drawing players' sustained interest and patronage.

Though not an official determination, it's hard to imagine a player not being enticed by such relatable messaging as “Imagine What a Buck Could Do” (CA).

Believe most people would agree that an extra dollar or two would definitely - make one's life a little easier, if not better overall.

While admittedly, some states' slogans may be better than others, the commonality among all is that they help to create a brand around the games to the point where just a brief glimpse of the logo or phrasing can draw instant recognition.

A random sampling of lottery taglines employed by states across the U.S.:

  • Good. Clean. Fun.” (VT)
  • “Play the Games of Texas” (TX)
  • “Winners Happen.” (MT)
  • “Big Fun, Bright Futures.” (SC)
  • “Play Time!” (OR)
  • “Department of Imagination” (WA)

Granted, the State of Washington's slogan may be more formal than, say, Rhode Island's “Dreams Rock” or Kentucky's “Get Your Gane On,” but odds are they peaked your attention if not your online account. At the end of the day, the lottery is all about generating excitement, providing entertainment, and, of course, offering the potential to win a lot of money.
So long as the state and multi-state lotteries continue to create the lure by making the games a fun and anticipatory pastime, then people will assuredly continue to play, hoping that their big jackpot is just a drawing or scratch-off ticket away.