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Monday, June 29, 2009

But Will It Play in Peoria?

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:


malcer said...

But to sell a day at the track as a sporting event you'd have to actually offer a good product.

I dare say having the best American mare in years and the best American filly in years run on opposite coasts (and beating a combined 7 G3-level horses) isn't great sport to anyone other than those hardcore fans who can get euphoric about speed figures.

For the same reason, I doubt that Sam Houston or today's Meadowlands (TB meet) would have much to advertise should they opt to concentrate on the sports and outdoor entertainment aspects of their product.

At least, the fact that there are still tracks surviving without slots proves there is tremendous potential for our sport, Peoria-wise.

IanLozada said...

I don't know. If I'm running an ad for a track, I'm not sure I'm going to sell the horses at all. The only people who are going to jump in their car because of who's running are already customers. The people who we're selling to don't know a saddlecloth from a dishcloth.

Look at Churchill's new promotion: Downs After Dark is aimed at people who might never cross the tunnel to see what happens on the racetrack side of the facility. But they had a great time, they spent lots of money, they came to see and be seen, and they left with a positive impression of CD. That in itself is marketing money well spent.

You don't have to hit people over the head with your message to sell your product. Sometimes, you just have to let it put itself in a good light and build in stages from there.

tvnewsbadge said...

IanLozada said I don't know. If I'm running an ad for a track, I'm not sure I'm going to sell the horses at all..

Great point, since at smaller tracks like my local Colonial Downs, you don't see any "name" horses except during the two graded stakes races.

However, they could build a good campaign around some of the jockeys like Rosemary Homeister (sp?).

The problem is, there isn't much more in the way of other activites to promote either.

Of course, that may be by intent... the track has been trying to cut out live racing for years (they make their money at the OTB's).

P.S. Not that it matters, but I found that Shaq ad to be disgusting... You're right though, I sure do remember it (even though I forget the product it was selling).

PEM said...

Interesting blog-I follow Ted at OWNING RACEHORSES since I'm also involved in some small circuit t-breds. Need to read a bit more to offer my two cents-but I will keep reading.