The Preakness Stakes must be just around the corner judging by the uproar over the Maryland Jockey Club’s latest advertising and marketing campaign. Love it.
This year’s campaign, featuring the half-man-half-horse called “Kegasus,” drew instant response from all corners, including one Maryland lawmaker who publicly stated he believes it’s tasteless and makes the state look bad.
Get over it. We need levity.
But the fact he even spoke out about it speaks volumes, as in turn up the volume: “Kegasus” so far has worked, as did the 2010 campaign “Get Your Preak On.” It got people talking and, according to the MJC, helped increased attendance by 18,000 over the previous year, when the BYOB policy ended.
It doesn’t take a controversial ad campaign to get my co-worker, Ian Tapp of Blood-Horse/TrueNicks, to add his two cents—he’ll do so on anything—but he offered this in response to the concerned legislator: “How will he feel about the 2012 Preakness winner, Fusaichi Kegasus?”
Clever—and that’s the benefit of a clever ad campaign. It gets people thinking and talking.
More so than even Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day, Pimlico Race Course on Preakness day is two radically different worlds: the apron side of the track, and the infield side of the track. Pick your party, one that’s heavily racing, or another that’s well ... (insert description of choice).
Maryland racing isn’t having an easy time of it right now, and any relief, even that of the comic variety, is much appreciated. It seems the MJC with its 2010 and 2011 marketing campaigns is trying to do what any good business would do: generate noise and traffic to ultimately increase revenue--and hopefully a little more interest in horse racing.
There’s always room for the racehorses on Preakness day, and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t attend on a regular basis. But there could be a whole lot more pari-mutuel wagering, particularly in the infield, something the MJC should attempt to foster.
The very young audience is there, so capitalize on it. If they spend $20 on a beer mug, maybe they'll bet $10 on the races. Flood the infield with “Kegasus” tip sheets authored by the “manimal” himself.
A little more trash on the ground of the infield, which looks like a landfill the morning after the Preakness anyway, is the least of the MJC’s problems. A little more infield wagering, however, would surely be a welcome development in the current environment.