Gus is scary.

The Pennsylvania Lottery is betting that Station Square advertising agency Marc USA can keep customers scratching. The agency beat out two competitors to win another four years marketing the lottery, which has a $32 million annual advertising budget.

During its tenure, Marc’s staff created the ticket-scratching Gus the Groundhog to promote scratch-off instant lottery games.

You mean to tell me that nasty, semi-scary, totally-ridiculous groundhog is worth $32 million a year?

I’m sorry. That Groundhog scares the bejeebers out of me. I think it has something to do with his eyes.

Or my fear of Furries.

Or scientologists.

And with that, I’m outta here, babes.


  1. Bram R
    July 13, 2007 12:45 pm

    Yo, I’ve been meaning to mention: don’t you be lumping Furries together with Scientologists.

    Scientolgoists — maybe not the poor schleps down below, but the ones a little higher up in the pyramid — are honest-to-god horrifying.

    Seriously, even if it’s intended all in good fun, that’s almost like calling someone a Nazi. FWIW.

  2. chrys
    July 13, 2007 1:47 pm

    Do you think Punxsutawney Phil and Gus are secret

  3. NY Luvs Pitts
    July 13, 2007 1:47 pm

    Have a great vacation. See ya when you get back.

  4. SeanCollier
    July 13, 2007 1:54 pm

    Someone should watch every lottery commercial and analyze just how much, mathematically, Gus would’ve lost since this advertising campaign began. I mean, this is a guy – uh, a rodent – with a serious problem.

    Have a great vacation. I have no idea what I’m going to do at work for the next week.

    What? WORK? Hell nah.

    Bring us back some pictures of Mexican pigeons.

  5. Sofa King
    July 13, 2007 1:59 pm

    Ha…I was an intern at MARC when they landed the PA Lottery account. I never would have guessed that Gus the Groundhog would be the direction they would take with it.

  6. BBM
    July 13, 2007 2:03 pm

    Have a great vacation! Be sure to drink a few cervazas in honor of Lukey moving forward while you’re gone.

  7. aj
    July 13, 2007 3:12 pm

    The Lunesta groundhog is way cuter…

    Have a blast in Mexico!

  8. Ms. Caroline
    July 13, 2007 3:16 pm

    Rodents and scratching. Brings to mind all sorts of unpleasant thoughts. Infection. Infestation. Yeah, who was the genius who gave that the go ahead?

    Tenga un viaje seguro!

  9. bucdaddy
    July 13, 2007 3:55 pm

    (mounts soapbox)

    Camel can’t use Joe Camel to sell ciggies but the lottery can sell gambling addicts their scratch-offs using an animatronic groundhog (and a bad one at that). Am I the only one?

    I can one-up y’all. Down here in West By-God the lottery people actually use Joe South’s mighty “Games People Play” to sell lottery tickets. The only part of the lyrics that gets aired, of course, is “Oh the games people play now, every night and every day now.” Because if they used the entire song, it might occur to even the simpleminded that “Games People Play” is about liars, con artists, cheats and thieves. In other words, the gambling industry (and I lump the state in with them).

    A radio talk show host down here who I respect once asked me why it was any different for the state to make money off gambling than it is to make money off nicotine and alcohol addicts. I pointed out that the state doesn’t run ads every 15 seconds on radio and TV trying to shove cigs and Jack Daniel’s down your throat.

    As much as the economic conservative side of me despises the gambling “industry,” which produces nothing but hypnotic trances at the one-armed bandit, and the state, which preys on peoples’ hopes and fantasies, the libertarian side of me believes people ought to be able to flush their money down the toilet any way they choose. I compromise this way: It’s fine with me if grandma wants to run through her social security check at Atlantic City or the Meadows, but she better damn well not ask me to pay for her f***ing prescription meds.

    (dismounts soapbox)

    Hugs, PittGirl. Miss you already.

  10. TYB
    July 13, 2007 4:01 pm

    I’m a PG lurker. Gus has driven me out…

    I cannot stand this marketing campaign. Frankly, I don’t like any marketing campaign that involves talking animals. The “There ain’t no bugs on me… there may be bugs on some of your mugs…” commercial drives me bonkers. It’s not cute. And it’s not funny. But clearly it’s effective because here I am perpetuating the discussion. Ugh.

  11. Maria in Pgh
    July 13, 2007 6:09 pm

    It’s not the eyes for me, it’s those nasty, nasty claws that appear at the bottom of the TV screen with that scratching sound.

    I literally have to turn away when they appear.

  12. Butch Putchy
    July 15, 2007 4:30 pm

    I love this blog, and I wanted to pass along another great blog dealing with the insanity of the government, written by one of the freshman State Reps from Washington County. It’s informative and remarkably funny for an elected official.

    The address is:

    Butch Putchy

    p.s. You rock, PittGirl

  13. curto
    July 15, 2007 10:07 pm

    The thing with a groundhog is they are aren’t worth much…at least to me.

    1. They are always eating gardens…in the city you can’t shoot them, so what can you do?

    2. They like to cross the road right in front of you in the middle of the night. Which sucks since it damages your car, and if it’s a route you take often you get to see it for at least a week.

    3. You can’t eat em’…

    Give me a good talking pig to sell me some lottery tickets and I’m on board. But would ‘Babe’ then feel ripped off?


  14. Steve
    July 16, 2007 7:58 am

    Definitely not my first choice for an endearing animal. This is just a classic case of bad local programing..(Pepper!! anyone).

    I have been trying to keep the buggers out of my garden for the last couple of seasons. This year I succeeded with a fence and and a live trap. I trapped 5 this year and 6 last year. I release them in a relatively remote location on the south shore of the mon.

    Deer are just as destructive to a garden, however, and require a much higher fence.

    I could not imagine eating one of those fly invested mega-rats. That is quite disgusting.

  15. BBM
    July 16, 2007 8:22 am

    Now that our first day without PG updates has arrived, I’m finding myself a bit peeved that we’re stuck with the darn groundhog picture. Darn you PittGirl for not leaving us with a Troysus picture at the top!

  16. Guest PittGirl
    July 16, 2007 9:21 am

    She should have left us with a feature guest sit-in.

  17. bucdaddy
    July 16, 2007 10:39 am

    Abstinence makes the … um, heart grow longer, or something like that.

  18. TYB
    July 16, 2007 11:34 am

    *throws hands in air*


    Thanks Steve. Now it’s stuck in my head again.

  19. aj
    July 16, 2007 1:04 pm

    I am so slow… second trip here today and I still expected a new post. Even after remembering earlier that Pittgirl is moving forward in Mexico. It is going to be a long week.

  20. DW
    July 16, 2007 1:57 pm

    Ugh….now that “PEPPER” dude is stuck in my head!

    Dude looks like Frankenstein when he does that “hands in the air” thing, too.

  21. Pepper ?
    July 16, 2007 3:25 pm

    Sorry, what is this reference to PEPPER? Did I miss something?

  22. Steve
    July 17, 2007 10:03 am

    TYB, DW, I am so sorry…If wish I could take it back.

    Pepper ?, Here you go.

  23. Pepper ?
    July 17, 2007 10:31 am

    Not as bad as others I’ve encountered.

    George, George, George of the jungle…


  24. NoSide15212
    July 17, 2007 11:07 am

    Okay, folks. Someone show some leadership here and propose a topic/post a fake PittGirl Blog. Just include a comment about Ben’s fug-tacularness, hot shoes, Troysus’ hotness, your cute little nose, pigeons, Luke hammered & walking around the SauceSide peeing on people’s car door handles, and then add a link referencing “moving forward.” Oh yeh; throw in a reference to David Conrad.

    BTW…drove through IUP’s campus yesterday and they are embarking on a huge building program right now and the theme of the new construction boom is called: IUP–moving forward. Seriously. And Toyota’s new tagline is “moving forward.” WTF has our little diaper-clad mayor started?


  25. SeanCollier
    July 17, 2007 1:27 pm

    I had to write a overly repetitive press release yesterday, and was stumped on a synonym for “make progress.” Then I reluctantly pressed delete, and typed: “move forward.”

  26. BBM
    July 17, 2007 1:39 pm

    OK, NoSide15212, how about this to entertain ourselves I already did Luke; you can see him in all his four-fingered yellow glory at

    PittGirl, you are never again allowed to go on vacation unless you coordinate with me first. I need entertainment when I’m at work. Thanks!

  27. TYB
    July 18, 2007 1:10 pm

    Steve, I don’t believe you. You’re a sadist and you know it.


  28. parking chair
    July 18, 2007 3:21 pm

    hey, since pitt girl is AWOL, i might as well ask – any of you work in advertising in the burgh? I’m looking to move back and would love to develop some contacts!

  29. Sofa King
    July 19, 2007 10:21 am

    Dang, too bad PG isn’t here…she’d love to hear this news:

    Troysus contract extension and Charlie Batch saying “move forward,” all in one story.

    Hey, chair, I know some people at MARC USA, what kind of role are you looking for? I don’t know how useful my contacts might be…they seem a little hesitant to interview people who aren’t currently from Pittsburgh.

  30. NickSanz
    July 19, 2007 12:00 pm

    I know that everyone thinks that Gus sucks (myself included) but you need to keep in mind the demographic they’re marketing towards with him.

    They’re obviously having really good market penetration with the Gus campaign. I mean, why the hell else would they sign a contract for another four years?

  31. parking chair
    July 19, 2007 2:26 pm

    Sofa King – I’m a copywriter. well, Sr. Copywriter to be precise. And I wouldnt even need corporate housing because my entire family lives back home! click on my name and you can email me there. Thanks!

  32. SeanCollier
    July 20, 2007 1:26 pm

    Your final PG vacation activity: Takin’ bets on when we’ll see the triumphant PG return post. I’ve got Monday at 11:30 AM. Anybody else?

  33. Dave
    July 20, 2007 2:21 pm

    Has any else taken note of the fact that PittGirl and Anthony ( disappeared on the same day?

  34. cityworker
    July 20, 2007 4:55 pm

    first post will be 7:43 monday morning in honor of her two favorite steelers.

  35. BBM
    July 22, 2007 10:00 pm

    I’ll go with 9:00 for the first post.

  36. bucdaddy
    July 23, 2007 9:37 am

    Come out, come out, wherever you are!

  37. bucdaddy
    July 23, 2007 10:01 am

    All right, you naughty girl. Enough’s enough. You’ve had your fun. There are people waiting …

  38. mike
    May 16, 2008 1:46 pm

    in one word… how can i describe the ‘2nd most fav groundhog in pa’ ad campaign… CRAP! if i was on the creative team at marc that conceptualized this flea ridden spokesperson… i don’t know if i would be able to sleep at night.

    what really bothers me about the entire concept is not the terrible expressions, puppeteering, and post production FX… it’s not the bush league copy… it’s not the blatent attempt to throw all targeted demographics into the spots… it’s not even the ambiguous sexuality of said groundhog… it’s not gus’s compulsion to buy scratch off lotto tix and his pressure for me to join in on his addiction… i’m ok with all of this.

    what really bothers me is the tagline used “second most favorite groundhog in pa”. WHAT’S UP WIT DAT??? why the quest for mediocrity gus??? is phil too intimidating for you to step up and usurp his title??? have fun living in phil’s shadow. WTF marc usa and WTF pa lotto???

    you should all ‘keep on scratchin’ for new concepts… what was wrong with the cheap old bastard that gave out scratch off lotto tix as christmas gifts? “5 CASH FIIIIIIVES!!!”