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Dianne Thomspon, chief executive of Camelot
Dianne Thomspon, chief executive of Camelot
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: DIANNE THOMPSON CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF CAMELOT APRIL 28th, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Camelot, not in the Kennedy sense of the word but Camelot is relaunching the National Lottery now with new games and a 72 million marketing and advertising campaign, there are even rumours of a new name. The lottery has been going of course since 1994 and by any measure has been a phenomenal success but over the last three or four years the number of players has somewhat declined leading to a fall in prize money, a fall in profits and of course less money for good causes. The rebranding and marketing exercise which will be officially unveiled this week is an attempt to stop the decline but will it be enough? I'm joined now by Dianne Thompson the Chief Executive of Camelot. Are you, welcome by the way.

DIANNE THOMPSON: Thank you.

DAVID FROST: Are you changing the name?

DIANNE THOMPSON: We are changing the name, in fact from the 18th of May it will be called Lotto the main game, that's so that we can actually separate the brand so the National Lottery will stand for the betterment of Britain and to date we've raised 11.3 billion for the good causes. So we have the National Lottery meaning the over-arching brand and Lotto then is just one of the games that will get promoted, Lotto being the game all about winning.

DAVID FROST: So that's official this morning...

DIANNE THOMPSON: It is.

DAVID FROST: It's Lotto...

DIANNE THOMPSON: It's Lotto.

DAVID FROST: And is there going to be new television shows to go with it?

DIANNE THOMPSON: It's going to be everything, we're changing everything, there's a new end line for the advertising, we've got a whole new advertising campaign featuring Billy Connolly, as you said earlier we're spending 72 million pounds right across the year and this is an investment in everything we do, including our retailers, we're putting new play stations in, we'll have new pay slips. Just about everything you can think about actually will be new.

DAVID FROST: Why do you have to change the machines, to put extra things in them?

DIANNE THOMPSON: Well we've changed the...

DAVID FROST: I mean they were working this week alright?

DIANNE THOMPSON: Absolutely well we replaced all of the terminals last year, 25,000 at a cost of 68 million which was part of the requirement from the bid but what we're doing in our retailers later this year are putting new playstations, new point of sale, the lottery's nearly eight years old now and it's starting to look tired and we now need a little bit more new life and reinvigoration.

DAVID FROST: Do you think the reinvigoration will enable you, you set out as your figure for good causes over this seven year contract was 15 billion and Lord Burns has said that anything over 10 billion is unrealistic, who's right?

DIANNE THOMPSON: Well I think it's going to be very hard to tell in the sense that when we put our bid in which was February 2000 the world looked quite a different place, at that stage we didn't know about the gambling review that Sir Alan Budd has recently carried out in the proposed deregulation on the gaming market in general and also the pace of change of technology has slowed down. We thought we'd be far the, the UK would be far further down the track of interactive TV and internet than we actually are so there are some things that are quite different from when we put the bid in.

DAVID FROST: I can see those facts are true but I mean you promised 15 billion didn't you?

DIANNE THOMPSON: Well what we actually said in the licence was that where games that existed today and we forecast how much we would sell of those over the next seven years. New games that we knew we would be able to do with commission from our regulator but we also had some games in the bid that needed legislative change for us to be able to do those and what we said is that we need things to change to enable us to be able to do those games. If you added the revenue from all of those it was 15 billion so we never said that we single handedly could raise 15 billion, it needed to be a concerted effort between ourselves and government.

DAVID FROST: Is, how do you get round the fact that the basic game, I mean has obviously been a great success, people have invested a lot although it's been going down in the last three or four years but, but it's a bit boring isn't it?

DIANNE THOMPSON: Well the, I mean the good news is it has been a huge success and in fact although this will be the fourth year of declining sales the second half of this year is actually level against the second half of last year so we've stabilised the game and yes I think it has got a bit boring and that's why we're doing this relaunch of everything that we're doing but even so we've still got 60 per cent of the adult population playing this game on a regular basis, it's one of the highest participation levels anywhere in the world.

DAVID FROST: One of the highest in the world. And most of the world, as you said, have Lotto as their name and so on?

DIANNE THOMPSON: Yes 85 per cent...

DAVID FROST: And does your survey show that that will help, I mean you've probably done a lot of focus groups?

DIANNE THOMPSON: Absolutely we've done a lot of work on the whole relaunch of the marketing game and in fact we have a new name, we have a new end line, we've got some brilliant advertising with Billy Connolly and what we'll be announcing tomorrow are some new promotions, some new games, all sorts of new marketing activities. So yes I think it will actually bring the energy and excitement back into the lottery.

DAVID FROST: So that the flagging lottery, the News of the World says today, dropping in sales but you rightly said that the last quarter or half was...

DIANNE THOMPSON: Last six months yes...

DAVID FROST: Was better again, was level.

DIANNE THOMPSON: We're in a good position, it's a great place to be now for the relaunch so I'm quietly confident that it'll be a very good year for us.

DAVID FROST: Tell me will it be a good year for you too because congratulations you're in here as one of Britain's leading business women, Dianne Thompson here in the Sunday Times thing on Women's Business Today, and it raises the point that comes up in the article too, do you find with so few women in the top ftse 100 or whatever, in senior positions in business, does that mean you get treated differently?

DIANNE THOMPSON: I don't think so at all actually and certainly my own organisation where if you take the 900 staff I have, 60 per cent of them are women, we've got two executive female directors, I mean I think everybody gets treated equally in Camelot, if you're good then you get to the top and I think, I think it's sad there aren't more women at the top but I think that's sometimes because women don't have the confidence in themselves really.

DAVID FROST: A question of confidence. Thank you very much for being with us Dianne.

DIANNE THOMPSON: My pleasure, thank you.

DAVID FROST: Many thanks.

DIANNE THOMPSON: Thank you.

DAVID FROST: Dianne Thompson.

END


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