When advertising executive Damon Stapleton was tasked with developing the new Lotto advert, he sat down with the marketing team at the organisation and told them a series of 16 stories, each designed to bring life to the 'Imagine' platform that underpins the brand.
Listening intently to yarn after yarn, the Lotto team narrowed their favourites down to two before settling on one based on the true story of a former Lotto winner who pledged to share his winnings with his best mate.
Like most films 'inspired by true events', Stapleton, who works for the advertising agency DDB, made full use of his creative licence spinning the relatively simple premise into a tense heist video, which features a delivery guy frightening his co-worker by skipping a stop and pretending to steal the valuable cargo before revealing the golden ticket.
The advert continues Lotto's storytelling tradition, adding to a catalogue that includes tales of a surprise pirate ship, and an elaborate treasure hunt orchestrated by a deceased mother.
While the Lotto brand seems to offer limitless creative scope, Stapleton told the Herald that developing the right story isn't an easy brief to crack.
"The trick with New Zealand is that you can't go and show Vegas, Ferraris and Cristal because that wouldn't ring true with New Zealand people," Stapleton said.
He said Lotto advertising needs to be authentically Kiwi without being mundane.
"The real trick with Lotto is taking realism and pushing it beyond someone's imagination," he said.
"It's a weird balancing act between what you see every day and what you hope to experience once in your life. That's a hard thing to get right."
Emilia Mazur, Lotto's general manager of corporate communications, said it was also important for the ad deliver a modern representation of New Zealand.
"The country is changing and it's more diverse and more inclusive and that's what we want our ads to reflect as well," she said in commenting on decision to cast a Pākehā bloke alongside a younger Indian man.
Venturing into this territory does however have its pitfalls in that even the most well-intentioned ads can sometimes seem reliant on well-versed clichés.
But Lotto's latest advert appars to tick all the right boxes, including showing that representations of minorities in New Zealand advertising are finally getting over the 'spray and walk away' hangover, which has lingered for far too long.
Stapleton said that the continued reliance of stereotypes and clichés in advertising is partly because ads are often constrained to a 15-, 30- or 60-second block, an arbitrary timeframe not always conducive to telling a well-rounded story.
The restriction, largely a by-product of how media space is sold, often sees brands leaning on generic representations, which the audience will understand instantly.
Instead of squeezing the story into a shortened block, Lotto has given it extra room to breathe by purchasing full two-minute ad slots on TV and cinemas for the initial roll out of the spot.
The ad airs on free-to-air television across New Zealand tonight.