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PA Lottery’s 20-Year-Old Holiday Ad Gets Makeover

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — “Happy holidays, Rita!”

If you’ve lived in Pennsylvania during the past 20 years, chances are you recognize that line from the Pennsylvania Lottery’s television commercial — a nostalgically kitschy holiday tradition from Philly to Pittsburgh.

The ad, which first aired in 1992, shows a grandfatherly guy named Joe leaving his home on a snowy evening to deliver gifts of lotto tickets to his neighborhood newsstand and coffee shop. Meanwhile, festively attired carolers sing the lottery’s version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” marketing its current games.

But this year, Joe, Rita and the gang aren’t the same. The commercial has been redone, a shot-by-shot match of the original, but in high definition and a widescreen format that looks better on today’s sharper and broader televisions.

Spokesman Gary Miller said lottery officials wanted to make the spot look better without messing with tradition. The audio track from the original ad was retained and actors were cast to resemble their 1992 predecessors, he said.

“We really wanted to stay true to the original concept,” Miller said. “Many (people) who have seen the commercial didn’t realize we changed it.”

Not to fear, traditionalists: The characters in the new commercial love the notion of giving and receiving lottery tickets for Christmas as much as they have for the past two decades.

The original advertisement did change a little over the years. The “12 Days” jingle was tweaked to reflect substitutions in the lottery’s menu of chance — “two instant games” became “two Lucky for Lifes” then “two Mega Millions” — but the endearingly hokey elements that made it a favorite are still there.

Rita’s coffee stand co-worker has the same overly enthusiastic “What a GREAT gift!” reaction to Joe’s lottery ticket Christmas present, and a female singer in a blue cape still belts out a “five Cash FIIIIVES!” solo mid-carol.

The ad, titled “Snowfall,” was shot in Philadelphia over two nights in October. The 1992 “Snowfall” was filmed in Pittsburgh but the backdrops of townhouses trimmed in lights are comparable in both renditions.

Miller said feedback has generally been positive. The new spot is posted on the lottery’s YouTube channel, with commenters complimenting the decision to update a Christmas classic.

Connie Bloss worked on both “Snowfall” ads, in 2012 as the Pennsylvania Lottery’s marketing director and in 1992 as an account executive with the ad agency that had the agency’s account.

“Because the original spot is so beloved, we didn’t want to upset anyone by going in a vastly different creative direction,” she said. “We meticulously examined each frame to match the outfits, props, location, and other small details. We really wanted to get it right.”

Videos of the old “Snowfall” can also be found on YouTube and not surprisingly, some people are unhappy with the makeover.

“They’re not showing this version anymore. I saw the newer-looking, more updated one today. End of an era,” a commenter recently posted on a two-year-old YouTube posting of the 1992 commercial.

Another added, “What is there to update seriously? Why did they decide to mess with it?!”

Bloss said that in 1992, it wasn’t anyone’s intention to make an ad that would stick around for so long.

“We had hoped the original commercial could run for two or three seasons, as we are always looking for ways to stretch the Lottery’s advertising budget,” she said. “After it enjoyed a 20-year run, I believe we certainly got our money’s worth.”

“We hope to get another 20 years out of this one,” Miller said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

A holiday TV tradition in Pennsylvania is changing this year. The Pennsylvania Lottery's "12 Days of Christmas'' commercial, which originally aired in 1992, has been revamped.

PA Lottery’s Beloved ‘Snowfall’ Commercial Returns for 25th Season

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Oct 31, 2016, 11:30 ET

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MIDDLETOWN, Pa. , Oct. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On November 1 , the Pennsylvania Lottery’s beloved “Snowfall” commercial, featuring Joe, Rita, and the carolers, returns to television for its 25 th holiday season. Its catchy jingle is a shortened take-off on “The 12 Days of Christmas,” with six lottery games filling in for the traditional swans-a-swimming, gold rings and turtle doves.

“The moment they hear the carolers sing, many Pennsylvanians reflexively smile, sing along and mentally count the weeks until they can put up the tree,” said Lottery Executive Director Drew Svitko . “We are proud that our popular commercial brings back so many warm memories for viewers and has become a Keystone State holiday tradition.”

The original commercial, filmed in Pittsburgh , aired from 1992 to 2011. In 2012, the Lottery produced a high-definition, shot-for-shot remake in Philadelphia . It began airing that fall.

“The remake is such a faithful reproduction that many viewers couldn’t tell the difference,” Svitko added. “The biggest hint is that the newer version is produced in wide-screen format. Plus, if you look carefully, you may notice some LED lights.”

The commercial highlights the annual release of the Lottery’s holiday-themed instant games, which went on sale October 25 . This year’s games are: $1,000,000 Snow Bank ($20) , Trim the Tree ($10) , Frosty Ca$h ($5) , Freezin’ Greetings ($3) , Unwrap the Cash ($2) and Merry Money ($1) . Instant tickets make a great gift for anyone who is 18 or older.

The Snowfall commercial will air in rotation with a new holiday commercial in which Gus, Pennsylvania’s second most famous groundhog, goes sledding.

About Us: The Pennsylvania Lottery remains the only state lottery to direct all proceeds to programs that benefit older residents. Since ticket sales began in 1972, it has contributed nearly $27 billion to fund property tax and rent rebates, transportation, care services, prescription assistance, and local services including senior centers and meals.

Players must be 18 or older. Please play responsibly. Call 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) for help with a compulsive gambling problem.

Visit for winning numbers, rules, chances of winning, and to join the VIP Players Club for second chances to win. Install our official mobile app, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lottery Media Relations, 717-702-8008

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On November 1, the Pennsylvania Lottery’s beloved "Snowfall" commercial, featuring Joe, Rita, and the carolers, returns to… ]]>