Dries Poels – Nederlandse Loterij

Dries Poels – Nederlandse Loterij

Dries Poels is Head of Marketing at Nederlandse Loterij. Nederlandse Loterij has 27 different marketers who are responsible for the marketing of 8 different brands. In this agile organisation, each brand is run by a multi-disciplinary team, which includes the 27 marketers reporting to Dries. Each multi-disciplinary team is led by a Business Director who is responsible for the P&L of their brand. As Head of Marketing, Dries oversees 4 chapters: online marketing, social marketing, campaigning, and media management. Dries: “I am also responsible for brand transcending marketing themes, such as our agency roster and portfolio management. We have 6 different lotteries in 1 sector, making it very interesting to manage the portfolio, and making sure all brands are aligned.”

Drivers for growth

Dries: “We measure brand growth on the brand funnel KPIs; awareness, consideration, preference, and top of mind awareness. Next to that, we look towards various image statements. Is a brand sympathetic, reliable? These are all long term KPIs you want to grow. We also have a few other metrics such as engagement towards the brands and on our socials. But in the end, it’s about turnover – which is a long-term result of a successful brand. With that, you need to keep a close eye on your brand funnel and image, to make sure you are building the core of your brand. These KPIs overarch all the brands in our portfolio. But the goals and priorities within these KPIs differ per brand and category. A relatively young and fast-growing lottery brand such as Eurojackpot focuses more on building that spontaneous brand awareness, whilst the well-known Staatsloterij aims to grow the top of mind awareness. Each brand has their own priorities within that KPI mix.”

“We have a fantastic intelligence team to establish what our drivers for growth are,” Dries continues. “Which is how we know that certain image statements are a prerequisite for turnover and growth. Apart from that, we are a true marketing company and believe that a strong image contributes to a strong growth in turnover. TOTO is the best example of that. From an old-fashioned brand where people needed to fill in a form at their local cigar shop – TOTO grew to a fast-growing, almost cult brand. It has been great to see that growth and transformation happening.”

“We aren’t an essential product, so we need to remind people of the beauty of dreaming every single day.”


Dries: “I believe a recognisable and appealing brand identity will lead to growth. Creatives are a part of that identity. So, what are the ingredients for growth? I think it consists of a killer proposition, which is very distinctive and meets consumer’s needs. Next to that, you need to have a distinctive positioning and image. Those are the 2 most important ingredients for growth. A brand is more than just its advertising. Which is also something I look for in the agencies we work with. They shouldn’t just be focusing on making advertisements; I believe in brand consultancy. An agency that thinks about your brand, overarching all touchpoints, throughout the funnel and media deployment. Developing a proposition, portfolio management, these aspects should concern the agency as well.

We have 8 brands, and each brand works with two to four core agencies. When skills tend to overlap between them, the more opportunity it brings to brainstorm and work together to get our brands to the next level. Which is something I stimulate. We meet our media agency on a weekly basis and every two to three weeks the social and lead agency also join in. All our brands meet their agencies to talk about metrics, KPIs, campaigns. I believe in teamwork and making our brands better, together. I don’t believe in a client/agency relation, I believe in organic partnership. It’s something I see emerge more and more within our brand portfolio.”

When it comes to their creative process, Dries explains that they spend a lot of time evaluating with the agency and creating the briefing. “It starts with a good briefing. The concept presentations is something we also co-create on. We don’t just get the presentation handed over to us, and in two days’ time the agency receives our feedback and carry on with it. No, it’s about engaging in discussion, coming up with different proposals, and adding or dropping certain elements. It’s an intensive co-creative process.” Dries has a great passion for creatives, and finds his inspiration from different places. Dries: “To me, the most important source of inspiration are my kids. They are 13 and 15, consume media differently, and sometimes they almost speak another language. It’s about understanding what is happening in the Netherlands, and embracing that. New music and engaging in discussion with other professionals in the market also fuel my inspiration. It is great to be in the Spin Awards jury, not only getting inspiration from the work of colleagues, but discussing why something works, or doesn’t work. Differing in opinion and understanding someone else’s take on things.”

Role of research

Nederlandse Loterij does a lot of research, something Dries finds very important: “We have a brand tracker, campaign tracker, and recently I had a bunch of our commercials tested using neuroscience. With brand tracking and campaign tracking you question the conscious part of the brain where there is always a slight lag, and you may evoke socially accepted answers. I believe in the combination of both the conscious and unconscious mind. Which is especially useful in pretesting. However, gut feeling is still very important. In addition to looking at your data, it takes skill to tell what the brand needs, and pull the brakes when you think something isn’t good enough. Not everything is about data.”

Humour vs. emotion

When it comes to trends, Dries’ opinion is that the core of creatives has always stayed the same. Dries: “It’s about making an impact. The thing that has changed over the years is the platform where we make that impact. The way of communicating has also shifted more towards engaging, than just broadcasting. When you look at the Gouden Loeki Awards, and consider that to be a measure of creative trends over the last 25 years, you can tell that humour is crucial in communication. Until around 2012, 2013, successful advertisements were often tapping into humour. Nowadays, the trend has shifted more towards emotion. We used emotion in our commercials with Freddie and Frekkel which both received the Gouden Loeki. They focused on the relation between human and animal. Moving people with a beautiful story. But a lot of our brands drive on humour, take TOTO for example. Really tapping into culture, looking at what is happening in that core target group. We call it ‘bragging and boasting’, the result of one of our strategic sessions with the agency. I believe in holding on to a fantastic big idea or creative concept. Such as Koning TOTO (King TOTO), or Voorpret (anticipation) with the Staatsloterij. Hold on to the core concept, but also renew it and keep it alive. As mentioned, we need to be top of mind – so you shouldn’t switch out that big idea too often.”

It’s all about a dream

Dries: “Especially in lotteries, we sell series of numbers and a dream, the chance to win big. We aren’t an essential product, so we need to remind people of the beauty of dreaming every single day. To stay top of mind, we need excellent creatives, every single time. The challenge for me and all marketers in our company is to never settle for an 8, but to keep pushing to a 10. Only then, we remain top of mind, and remind people with a smile or through emotion, how great it is to dream.”