June 21, 2018
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‘Kwik’ fix by lottery

A proposed advertisement given to retailers by the Maine State Lottery, which plans to brand its instant scratch tickets as Kwikies.


Sometimes a letter to the editor can make a difference. Last week, Jane Welch of Pittsfield wrote a letter to the BDN to express her concern about the Maine State Lottery’s new advertising campaign for its scratch tickets. The lottery had recently sent a pamphlet to its 1,300 retailers to say it would name the tickets “Kwikies.”

“Who thinks this may make a lot of people uncomfortable?” Welch wrote.

Her concern prompted an article that revealed, indeed, store owners, cashiers and customers would be uncomfortable with the name. What customer wants to ask a cashier for a Kwikie, and what cashier wants to ask customers if they want one? Even if the origin of the name had nothing to do with sex, it would still be seen that way. It could also be viewed as sexist.

“I think it’s highly inappropriate,” said Kaylee Constable, a cashier at Village Market in Fairfield. “[Customers] have come in and joked around with me and say, ‘Can I get a Kwikie?’ I’m only 19 years old, and I have 40- and 50-year-old men saying sexual remarks to me.”

So it was good news on Monday when the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations decided that its instant tickets will not be branded as Kwikies.

It’s wise for the bureau to develop a branding strategy. Devising an identity for the instant tickets will certainly help with marketing.

But centering advertising tactics on the word “Kwikie” would have — as seen already, and recognized by the state — backfire. If cashiers aren’t required to ask customers if they want a Kwikie, they likely won’t. So, then, what’s the point of the name if it’s not used, especially if people already dislike it?

California has a “ Fat Cat Scratchers” ticket; the name gets across the needed message of wealth and ease. Maine could use the term “Scratchers” and brand it with images of happy, rich-looking cartoon moose using their antlers to scratch tickets and win big. If the lottery wants to mix it up, it could apply the theme, too, to lobster claws or deer antlers.

Better yet, the lottery could hold a competition to see who can think up the best name. The state would show it values public input, and it would generate publicity — the good kind. We encourage BDN readers to post their own — thoughtful — ideas in the comments section online.

The lottery acted wisely by recalling the name after hearing concerns. Welch, for one, was pleased. “I am happy. I’m glad that they thought twice, and I’m also glad that the people in the state of Maine were kind of on my side,” she said. Officials certainly got the hint — even, rather quickly.

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