CAMPAIGNS - Judge and Jury: Wrong balls up turns Camelot’s TV Dreams into a PR nightmare - After so much poor pre-publicity, the last thing Camelot needed was to muck up the actual draw of its latest lottery venture ... but it did, says Rosemary B

The phrase ’balls-up’ might have been invented to describe the latest fiasco to hit Camelot, operators of the National Lottery. The wrong set of balls were loaded into a lottery machine during the debut of its new scratchcard TV show, making a second draw necessary. Camelot said it would honour the numbers selected from both draws and would meet the extra hundreds of thousands of pounds in payout from its own profits.

The phrase ’balls-up’ might have been invented to describe the

latest fiasco to hit Camelot, operators of the National Lottery. The

wrong set of balls were loaded into a lottery machine during the debut

of its new scratchcard TV show, making a second draw necessary. Camelot

said it would honour the numbers selected from both draws and would meet

the extra hundreds of thousands of pounds in payout from its own

profits.



The TV Dreams scratchcard game was developed in a bid to revive falling

scratchcard sales and simultaneously breathe new life into the National

Lottery’s live Saturday night TV show. Condemned in advance as a blatant

50-minute commercial which breached BBC regulations and encouraged

gambling, the National Lottery Big Ticket’s premiere was launched amid

endemic hype and controversy.



Hosted by Anthea Turner and comedian Patrick Kielty, it was initially

deemed a great success by those taking part. But the laughs and

post-show euphoria were short-lived. After the programme ended, an

embarrassing error was found to have been made. Balls numbered 21 to 40

had been used instead of the full set of numbers from 21 to 50 when

loading the machine for drawing the third number.



Camelot’s response was quick and text-book. A repeat draw took place

under the eyes of auditors from Oflot and Price Waterhouse - the fact

that they had been supposedly supervising the original selection went

largely unremarked. The BBC announced the mistake and the results of the

new draw the same evening.



Camelot apologised, accepted responsibility for this ’human error’ and

agreed to bear the full cost of both draws. The punters wouldn’t

suffer.



The charities wouldn’t suffer. It seemed that even the human, new

drawmaster and former Camelot press officer Steve Webb, wouldn’t suffer.

Variously reported as ’gutted’, ’inconsolable’ and ’heartbroken’ at the

shattering of his ’TV dream’, he would keep his job. They weren’t

apportioning blame, said a Camelot spokeswoman, even though ’Steve

ultimately carries the can’. Just as well - can you imagine the outcry

if Goliath Camelot had put the boot into the hapless Steve.



Unfortunately this whole episode demonstrates that a company needs more

than text-book responses by the press office to save or restore its

reputation.



Operational sloppiness has left Camelot looking foolish and incompetent

just when it needs to be beyond reproach, especially in the wake of the

G-Tech crisis. A costly balls-up indeed.



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