It may not be pretty, but at least the North Carolina Lottery finally has adopted a symbol to represent itself.
The state's lottery logo will reflect the character of the state, not a generic burst of fireworks.
At a commission meeting last week, Tom Shaheen, the lottery's executive director, presented a proposed logo with a flourish, removing a sheet from a logo perched on an easel - but that clearly puzzled some commissioners. After scrapping the failed attempt, officials today approved a new lottery logo.
Lottery commissioners met by telephone, and so there was no ceremony to unveil it.
It was described as showing a lighthouse and ocean in the east and mountains in the west. A star hovers above it, a symbol of the state rising to the top, officials said.
One commissioner asked whether the yellow and green in the logo were too much like the Tennessee lottery's logo, which is yellow, green and purple.
Linda Carlisle, a member from Greensboro, said that the logo avoids inappropriate symbols that dwell on luck - such as the crossed fingers of Virginia's "V" logo. But Carlisle said that the image, which could be the lottery's symbol for the next 20 years, should subliminally emphasize that money raised by the lottery will go to education, perhaps with the image of stars or fireworks popping from a book.
"I would very much like to incorporate the focus on education," Carlisle said. "This is an opportunity for us to reinforce in the very visual form of the logo that this is an education lottery."
Charles Sanders, the commission's chairman, agreed - to a point.
"None of these logos have a little red schoolhouse, which is a symbol of education," Sanders said.
"It does appear they're trying to stay away from Carolina blue a little too much," said Cogburn. "It's not every state that has a color named after it."
Chariman Charles Sanders of Durham said that acceptance of logos — like art and architecture — will always be in the eye of the beholder.
Lottery director Tom Shaheen said he thinks the new logo works for its purpose: Customers 50 to 100 feet away should look at the logo and know instantly that a lottery ticket isn't far away.
Some members expressed a sense that the commission is moving too quickly on some of its decisions.
"Folks, let's spend the time we need to spend to do it right," urged Max Cogburn, a former administrative-law judge from Asheville who sits on the commission.
The commission proceeded to adopt the logo, with Carlisle casting the lone "no" vote.
Lottery officials first set April 5 as the date to begin selling the first scratch-off tickets and then moved it up to March 30. In the meantime, they are faced with a lawsuit challenging whether legislators followed correct producers when they adopted the lottery last year.
The commission also reversed an earlier decision in which it tentatively awarded a contract for managing the lottery's $8 million advertising budget to Howard, Merrell & Partners, a Raleigh ad agency.
But Howard, Merrell declined to provide a $500,000 payment bond, Shaheen said, so he and the lottery staff renegotiated and recommended Wray Ward Laseter of Charlotte for the three-year advertising contract.
After saying that it would make efforts on several fronts to find minority subcontractors, Wray Ward Laseter - which is 51 percent owned by a woman - won out over Mullen Advertising Inc. of Winston-Salem.
Cogburn warned that the commission should be more deliberate, even if it can't control the governor, the General Assembly or a bidder that refuses to provide a bond.
He referred to missteps in the lottery's early days, from the controversy surrounding legislative approval to the initial appointment to the commission of an ad executive who was paid $24,500 in consulting fees by lottery operator Scientific Games Corp.
"Our job, of course, is to make sure this thing gets set up with the utmost integrity," Cogburn said.
Shaheen and Sanders said later, though, that officials must move with haste to start the lottery on time.
"In order to start a lottery, you need to get everything done as soon as possible," Shaheen said. "It certainly hinders your advertising campaign if you don't have that (logo) out there."
Shaheen said he expects the first lottery advertisements to begin appearing in mid-March, before scratch-off tickets go on sale March 30.
Sanders said that newer members of the commission appear to be uncomfortable with the pace. "For people who want to be very deliberate, this can be very stressful," he said.
"When we started this whole thing out, we made it quite clear that we would be moving fast," he said.