Minnesota Sidewalk Chalk Lottery advertising


Holly Forman, Cockeyed.com staff member, sent along this report from Minneapolis.

Who doesn’t love a little good advertising? At some point, we’ve probably chuckled at a funny commercial or thought that an ad was clever.

However, last Saturday, I didn’t really laugh when I saw that the Minnesota State Lottery had painted an ad on the sidewalk in my lovely city, Saint Louis Park, on Minnetonka Blvd. and Dakota Avenue near my bus stop. I walked past it every day for a couple days until I was really, really curious about it.

What is it made of?

Who put it there?

Did they make a deal with the city to put it there?

Will it wash off?

So in true Cockeyed fashion, I set out to answer these questions, hoping to make a stir along the way.


What is it made of?

I called the Minnesota State Lottery HQ in Roseville, MN and spoke with Cassie in the PR department. She said that it was spray chalk and that it would come off with a “hard rain”. She also added that they were removing them “either today or tomorrow” because that particular campaign was over. I called her at 4:00 PM, so she added, “probably tomorrow.” Okay. We’ll see.

Who put it there?

I easily found the MN Lottery’s ad agency, Colle + McVoy. They list the Lottery as a client since 2004. They had to be the ones who cooked this ad campaign up, but it isn’t like the designers went out with stencils and did it themselves. The best I can come up with is this company: Alt Terrain 

They advertise “Legal Graffiti Advertising” in Minneapolis. Yeah: legal what? (This group was also responsible for putting up hundreds of MSN butterfly decals in NYC in 2002, which Microsoft had to later apologize for.) Clever? Maybe. Annoying? YES.

So I figure that Colle + McVoy called this group or a similar group up and had them hit the streets with stencils and spray chalk.


Did they make a deal with the city to put it there?

Nope. I called the Superintendent of Operations at the Public Works Department in Saint Louis Park. He had no idea that anything was there. We talked, he was very friendly and asked for photos of the ad. He laughed when I said I was washing it off. He probably thought I was nuts. He also let me know that Minnetonka Blvd. is a county road, so if a deal had been made with anyone, it would have been with Hennepin County. Before I tried calling the government center in downtown, I found this story from WCCO-TV in Minneapolis

Again, more mention that the ads are temporary and will “wash away with rain”. The story also says that this is technically graffiti, but police usually look the other way when it comes to chalk drawings. Good to know, I guess. Sidewalk chalk it up, merchants!

So, actually, no one got permission to put it there. They just did it. In April of this year, Washington D.C. sued Verizon over the same type of ads. (Hint hint, Saint Louis Park!)


Will it wash off?

When I got off the bus on Wednesday, I raced over to see if it was still there. Yep. Still there, still ugly. I hurried home to get my camera and a bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush. I figured that if it washes away with rain, it should be gone in a flash with hot, soapy water and a stiff scrub brush, right? I shouldn’t even break a sweat getting rid of it!

Well, so much for that theory. A splash of the hot water didn’t do much. The color ran a little. I gave a light scrub and it was still pretty dark. I then soaped it up and really scrubbed. I swirled. I clenched my teeth. It was getting lighter, but it was still there. I got most of the green, but the white remains. It is definitely lighter, but it is still there. So just how hard of a rain would it take, Cassie? I finally gave up after 20 minutes of hard scrubbing and walked home, defeated.

It is supposed to be removed today, so I will see if it is gone after work today. It seems doubtful that it will be gone.


I emailed the photos to City Hall and contacted WCCO to follow up on the story. Wish me luck! Also, if you live in Minneapolis or the surrounding area and have seen a similar type of ad, let me know when and where it is/was. Thanks.

Holly Forman

H o l l y (d o t)F o r m a n(a t)g m a i l(d o t)c o m

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July 16th, 2006 

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