We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. Read More Allow Cookies

National Lottery's Paul Dervan named marketer of the year

Posted on: 18 Nov 2022

Paul Dervan, chief marketing officer for the National Lottery, has been named this year’s Marketer of the Year™ (MotY) for his work in creating a new strategy with a strong focus on long-term branding and a move away from promotions and the pursuit of short-term gains. He was presented with the award at an industry lunch in Dublin today. The competition is organised by Marketing.ie magazine and sponsored by branding agency Dynamo.


When Dervan joined the company in late 2019, his vision was centred on strengthening the brand to push growth. As well as driving revenues, Dervan planned to rebuild the National Lottery brand and lift the careers of everyone in the marketing department. The foundations for his plans rested on six behaviours which soon appeared on the office walls and set the progress agenda.


The first principle was to be hard on the work, easy on each other – raise the work quality bar while being kind to colleagues. To be successful, work hard. Critical thinking was next in line and points to a need to be sceptical, but not cynical. Humility is a behaviour that marketers need to nurture as ego gets in the way of things. Strong opinions, weekly held means changing course when evidence suggests you’re wrong.


Share early and often – don’t spin results. It can be hard but the alternative is damaging.


Dervan and his team recognised three fundamental truths. People were not as excited as they used to be in playing the lottery. There was less attachment to the brand and people often simply forgot to play. The brand needed to be noticed and liked more. Anyone who bought a ticket seven times and didn’t win was unlikely to play again. There was also a need to ease the consumer journey.


Campaigns homed in on creating a master brand in place of the sub-brands competing against one another. The lottery used more colours than Skittles, which only confused consumers. Brand positioning was sharpened with a recognition they were selling a ticket to dream. Gold can be found by studying the past so Dervan reinstated the ‘It could be you’ slogan which had been dropped in 2013.


There was a doubling down on creating distinctive brand assets. As attention is scarce and fleeting and media is fragmented, the reason for such a move was evident numerically. Soon after starting as CMO, Dervan undertook econometric modelling to check on the value of their advertising spend. For every €1 invested, €2.68 was returned back in profit, prompting a shift in some media channels.


The brand’s fame and mental availability was measured and reinforced. A return to investing in good causes was also deemed worthy as people feel better about playing after they lose and are more open to playing again. Dervan’s team-building exercises included upskilling, organisation on marketing effectiveness and developing the basics – starting with brand metrics, strategy and insights.


Dervan’s strategy in reinventing the National Lottery brand resulted in the highest ever year-on-year revenues for the business. In 2021, the lottery topped €1 billion for the first time, which was a 19 per cent increase on 2019 figures. Revenue growth was not due to increased ticket prices or better distribution. Brand equity was up, people liked the lottery more and began to feel more connected.


Two other finalists were in the running for this year’s award – Aileesh Carew, director of sales and marketing at Epic, the Irish Emigration Museum, and Loretta Dignam, founder and marketing director of The Menopause Hub. Carew’s task was to raise the profile of Epic and the museum’s role in helping to share the story of Ireland’s diaspora.


Tapping into her experiences from working in hospitality in Ireland and abroad, Carew created a template to compete with other tourist attractions in Dublin, not least the Guinness Storehouse and TCD’s Book of Kells. Relying on insights, new ideas and ignoring the old Paddy whackery, her moves boosted visitor numbers and market share and put the Docklands area on the tourist map.


Dignam, who won MotY in 2011 for her work for Jacob Fruitfield, developed the Menopause Hub and a new category, borne out of her own personal experiences in going through menopause. Having recognised a gap in the market, she grew the business by using her strategic and commercial expertise, undertaking in-depth research and hiring the appropriate medical experts.


MotY returned this year following the pandemic with a campaign created by the competition’s new sponsor, Dynamo. The campaign slogan was ‘Let's Get Ready To Rumble’ and asked the question: ‘Are You Ireland's Next Heavyweight Marketing Champion?’ The judging panel was again chaired by Barry Dooley, chief executive of the Association of Advertisers in Ireland (AAI). Dooley has been in charge of running the AAI since 2013 and has extensive experience working in agencies.


This year’s judges were Adam Bacon, head of marketing, VHI Healthcare; Orlaith Blaney, director of corporate affairs, Irish Water; Meabh Clohosey, director of brand, marketing and loyalty, Aer Lingus; Alan Fox, vice president of central operations, FreeNow Ireland; Kevin Donnelly, managing director of Britvic Ireland; Luke Reaper, managing director, Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A); Steven Roberts, head of marketing, Griffith College; Emma Walls, commercial director, Glenisk and Suzanne Weldon, chief marketing and communications officer, BWG Foods.


Marketer of the Year™

Since 1993, Marketer of the Year™ has recognised and honoured standards of excellence in Irish marketing, specifically for work done in the last two years. The winner is someone, who through the use of strategy, innovation, communications and impact on the target market, has been responsible for making their brand, product or service an outstanding success.


Emma Kiernan of Dublin Zoo won the award in 2019. Other previous winners included John Keogh, Bulmers (2001); Niall O'Grady, Permanent TSB (2007); John Noonan, Flahavans (2009); John Concannon, Fáilte Ireland (2010), Kevin Donnelly, Britvic Ireland (2012) and Ray Kelly, SuperValu (2014) and Adam Bacon, VHI Healthcare in 2016. In 2018, to mark the award’s 25th year, Fiona Dawson of Mars Foods was named Ultimate MotY.


Marketer of the Year™ is registered in the Register of Trade Marks in the name of Marketing.ie under the Trade Marks Act 1996. Any use of Marketer of the Year™ in the RoI is strictly the preserve of Marketing.ie For more information, contact Michael Cullen at cullen@marketing.ie; 086 387 4432