Last week, the NTRA won a prestigious Gold Lion award at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France, for a radio ad campaign entitled “And They’re Off.” However, since I don’t live near a “major media market” and thus these never aired over airwaves near me, I had to seek out (with some difficulty) the winning ad campaign online. You can access it at the Devito/Verdi website, if you click under “Work”—the NTRA Radio campaign is listed first.
Not bad, I suppose, but also not sure it’s that effective in motivating people to come out to the track. It’s more a parody of what is typically associated with racing, the cadence of the race call, rather than the real stars—the horses.
It got me thinking about how the sport sells itself, and more often than not these days it appears that humor is the modus operandi when it comes to advertising. Case in point: this 2008 ad for Sam Houston Race Park, which TBS highlighted as one of the funniest commercials of that year:
Of course, how can we forget the 2008 Shaq ad for Vitamin Water that aired during the Super Bowl, even though racing is not the primary product being sold?:
It’s not Americans alone that share this propensity for comedy; here’s the ad produced for this year’s G1 Golden Slipper in Australia:
If not outright slapstick, sometimes the comedic is expressed in the absurd, such as this 2009 ad for Swedish Horse Racing:
Oh, how far (or how low) race track advertising has fallen since the end of the “Golden Era”—remember this classic Belmont Park ad from 1986, where it’s not sexy innuendos, but actual racing that brought people in?:
Here’s a short, sweet 10-second spot for the Meadowlands from 1985:
My absolute favorite is this 1984 horse racing commercial from Australia which plays upon both the importance of the horse in Australian history, as well as patriotic feelings...“it’s in our blood”—oh, how true! You don’t need to be an Aussie for this ad to choke you up: