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Wendy Reuer, Published September 27 2013

Missing tiger signs are covert lottery ads

MOORHEAD – Have you seen Pickles?

He’s a tiger.

And he’s missing.

“Lost Cat” fliers brandishing Pickle’s toothy image have been plastered across Minnesota asking residents to call if they know anything about him.

But anyone who finds him will have to keep him for a week. His family is on vacation in Las Vegas.

Or at least that’s what the Minnesota State Lottery is saying about the tiger in an attention-grabbing guerrilla advertising campaign for its new Caesar’s scratch-off game, which was first introduced last month.

After advertising the game through traditional media, lottery officials looked for an innovative but low-cost way to advertise. So they plastered about 500 fliers of “A Lost Cat” around the state, said Jason LaFrenz, director of marketing for the Minnesota State Lottery.

“It’s a nontraditional way of reaching people who maybe wouldn’t know about (the game),” he said.

If someone sees the poster advertising only a “lost cat” and calls the phone number, they hear a man’s voice saying, “Hey if you found our tiger, can you hold onto him for like a week or so? We’re in Vegas, baby.”

He goes on to explain the Minnesota State Lottery connection and directs the caller to check out the Caesar’s game online or at a retailer. He concludes by thanking the “high roller” for calling.

The Lottery office is tracking the number of calls to the hotline, but results will not be available until Tuesday, LaFrenz said.

He said his office is sure about 200 have called because that many have either left a message or listened to the voicemail in its entirely.

The Lottery will be selling the Caesar’s scratch game tickets until all the prizes are claimed, including $1 million and 30 VIP trips to Las Vegas at, of course, Caesar’s Palace.

LaFrenz said he’s heard only positive comments on the ad, and no complaints about raising the possibility of an on-the-lam tiger.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530