Peaked by 'Preak' Ad Campaign

It has been described as funny, eye-catching, irreverent, offensive, and sexually suggestive.

So which is it? Depends on your sense of humor—or lack thereof—and where your mind goes.

If it works on all those levels, it works—period.

More than a week before the May 15 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, ticket sales were up 25% and are expected to increase the week of the event. The Maryland Jockey Club cites the interest in its “Get Your Preak On” advertising campaign in the greater Baltimore area.

MJC president Tom Chuckas acknowledged the organization took criticism for banning carry-in booze a few years ago. The all-you-can-drink beer mug this year addresses some of that, but the ad campaign is about much more.

“The racing industry as a whole has been criticized for not promoting, not advertising, and not being on the cutting edge,” Chuckas said. “It has also been criticized for not targeting a younger demographic.

“This ad campaign was about getting a boost—a shot of adrenalin. The Pimlico facility has many facets—fine dining, the corporate village, the grandstand, and the infield—and at the end of the day, this campaign has people talking about the Preakness, and it’s not just the younger demographic.

“It has made other people take notice.”

“Get Your Preak On” is all over billboards, bus stop posters, social networking sites, and radio stations. It has been slammed by some for its suggestive nature and described as a “desperate” attempt by the MJC to return the infield to packed-house status.

So far it appears to be working, like it or not.

“The bottom line is the majority of responses, particularly from the younger demographic, have been very positive,” Chuckas said. “We’re definitely way ahead of 2009 sales, and we’re also ahead of 2008.”

Some get their “Preak” on by getting smashed in the infield or parading topless; others by spending an expensive afternoon in the dining room; many by hanging out in the grandstand handicapping and betting horses. That’s really the beauty of horse racing, and at a track the size of Pimlico, if you want to ignore the other elements, you can.

The second leg of the Triple Crown will still rule the day. At the very least, the not-so-politically-correct but edgy ad campaign drives home a message the industry sometimes forgets.

Horse racing is fun on many levels.

Bring it on. Or get it on. ... Whichever you prefer.

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