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#theothermadness, America’s best racing have feel of a winner

Apr 4th, 12
With The Jockey Club’s clout and bucks behind it, thoroughbred racing as an industry is embarking on its biggest marketing campaign in years. The early returns are highly encouraging, like the promising 2-year-old whose early workouts suggest it will only get better with time.

by Jennie Rees/Louisville Courier-Journal
http://blogs.courier-journal.com/racing/2012/04/04/racing-marketing-campaign-the-other-madness/
Coinciding with March Madness, one of the campaign themes is The Other Madness, with edgy, high-energy videos putting the sport in historical context – racing was in America long before baseball or basketball – and also using humorous tie-ins to other sports, for instance,a spoof ad for Hoof Locker.

The message is the branding of the sport as America’s Best Racing, with a new website called followhorseracing.com, which has been up and running with teasers but whose official launch is today, Wednesday, April 4.

Social media – hashtag #theothermadness – promises to be a staple, with The Jockey Club also beefing up the resources of the publicity arm of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, including hiring a social media manager (@ABRlive). It even mentions something called Pinterest.

The Jockey Club did not go to some Madison Avenue or Atlanta firm, but rather to a company that truly understands the product it’s promoting – and which is certainly keenly aware of March Madness. The mastermind is Kip Cornett of the Lexington-based Cornett Integrated Marketing Solutions, whose clients include the University of Kentucky and Keeneland.

It’s the first industry strategic marketing effort since the days of “Go Baby Go”, which along with “Pay the Lady” actually was a good campaign as far as it sticking in people’s minds, no matter how annoying Lori Petty was. After all, you still hear people say those phrases at the track. Lamentably, the second generation of that campaign featured Rip Torn and not very funny commercials. If there was a third generation, nobody recalls it.

The intro video that lays out this new campaign calls horse racing “the original madness” with the narrator going on to say that “a new breed of stars takes center stage again” and “where the elite come to compete and the fans come to play. Now placed in a brighter light… This is America’s best racing. Learn it. Watch it. Play it. Love it.”

The campaign doesn’t simply rely on spectacular photos or close-up video of the majesty of horse racing. It seeks to reel in other sports fans.

A 30-second video effectively sums up racing, showing fans in other sports winning koozies and foam fingers. “And, if they’re lucky, t-shirts shot from an air cannon,” the script below reads. Cue up dollar bills tossed in the air and the voice saying, “horse racing fans win this. So winning doesn’t just feel better … it pays better.”

Perfect.

Kendall Hansen, breeder and majority owner of Hansen (shown in Juvenile winner's circle in this Yetta Feltner photo)) ...

Fans and tracks are encouraged to post their own videos, beckoned by the words “the races and events during March and April drive normally sane individuals to bizarre behavior. They lose their composure. They lose their focus. They lose their sanity as the Derby season unfolds.”

... and his Skychai partners Jim Shircliff and Harvey Diamond understand The Other Madness of spring

(Far better to show the jubilant post-victory celebrations – for instance, Hansen’s owner on hands and knees kissing the winner’s circle ground after the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile – than to show the other form of madness in running hopelessly outmatched horses in Grade I races trying against all reason to get some unaccomplished and hapless horse to the Derby. But I digress.)

The videos also promote NBC Sports Group’s four-part series of Kentucky Derby prep races that also are sponsored in part by Keeneland. (And as part of it, Keeneland’s Blue Grass next week will air live on NBC.)

A key campaign cog is the ever-evolving followhorseracing.com website. There hasn’t been much on there now, but what is there is a great opportunity for some lucky fans. It’s the sign up for a chance to win a VIP trip for eight to the 2012 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, including airfare on a private jet, hotel rooms and a $5,000 betting voucher.(Here’s the link)

How refreshing is it that betting is an integral part of the campaign.

I have no idea what will be on followhorseracing.com, which will take over the fan and educational aspects now on NTRA.com. But its lead-up promises it will be a strong mix of showing both the entertainment and gambling appeal of the sport.

This is not your father’s Jockey Club, though it might still look like it when viewing its leadership. And while I disagree with the powerful organization pushing to ban race-day bleeder medication – I don’t believe it is in horses’ or horse players’ best interest – kudos to The Jockey Club for spearheading an innovative, 21st century marketing campaign.

 

 

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