Magazine article Marketing

People's Champion?

Magazine article Marketing

People's Champion?

Article excerpt

Simon Burridge, chief executive, The People's Lottery

When J Walter Thompson managing partner Simon Burridge was named chief executive of Sir Richard Branson's People's Lottery (Marketing, December 16) many people will have asked, "who?" In the wider community, the appointment barely made the news. The Guardian was the only paper to note it, and then only in passing.

But to the marketing community, Burridge's appointment laid out Branson's intentions. The People's Lottery would be a marketing-driven business.

I meet Burridge, 43, in JWT's office, where he still works on the Kraft account. He is a tall man with a friendly face and a hesitant smile. He speaks in a firm voice -- BBC English with a slight upper class accent. In his dark grey suit, he could be the chief executive of any of London's blue chip firms, except he is wearing suede loafers. He has, after all, always been an adman.

In 1993, as a director of JWT, Burridge did what many agencies were doing and wrote to Branson, asking to pitch for the lottery bid business. Thanks to JWT's experience of marketing lotteries in the US, it got the job.

Burridge was unofficially seconded to Branson's lottery team, led by Virgin's second in charge, John Jackson. Had Branson's bid won, Burridge would have been the lottery's first marketing head. It didn't, and having given up his clients to work on the bid, Burridge left JWT for Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. "It was a very, very deflating time," he says.

The decision to give the first licence to Camelot mystifies Burridge. "We got our bid right. Our forecasts were accurate and higher than Camelot's, but Oflot (the lottery authority) didn't believe them."

"We were also hampered by a perception that we were a cause, rather than a serious business; we had the Bishop of Liverpool supporting us, which didn't help in the end."

Two years later, JWT invited Burridge back. He returned, and in 1999 was once more invited to market Branson's lottery. "This time we're determined to show how serious a business we are," says Burridge.

High-profile partners such as JP Morgan, KPMG, Compaq, US lottery operator AWI, Microsoft and Kellogg will be augmented within two weeks by the announcement of a non-executive board that will read like a Who's Who of UK business (Marketing, February 10).

Burridge is mindful of the quality of his support and the big names that he will be expected to represent: "It does make me a little nervous, but if you are going to be chief executive of the National Lottery, wouldn't you rather have them on your side?"

And he is determined that his reputation will stand alongside that of his lottery's partners. "One of the criticisms of Camelot is that it is a faceless organisation. My face may not be much to recommend, but I will be a figure head for our lottery. …

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