Fasig-Tipton Cracks the (QR) Code

One of the latest technological advances sweeping the nation is the QR, or Quick Response, Code. The QR, which is a type of barcode, was developed by a Japanese subsidiary of Toyota in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. When Steve Jobs and company reinvented the cell phone by turning it into the smartphone, he, in turn, created a way to deliver QR technology to the masses. When accessed through any number of free apps available for download on your smartphone or tablet device with a camera, a QR code takes you to a Web page where you'll find targeted, up-to-date information and promotional content. With my iPhone, it’s as easy as taking a picture.

The QR is everywhere these days. You may have noticed these symbols showing up in magazine ads, posters, storefront window displays, TV advertisements, business cards, Web sites and even on T-shirts. They’re also showing up in racing.

In August, Equibase announced that QR Codes would be included on racetrack program past performance pages. Most tracks are now using them to provide links to time-sensitive information like scratches and other changes before a race—and results, charts and video race replays after the race is official. 

Adding a modern twist to the NTRA’s highly successful National Mystery Mutuel Voucher (MMV) direct mail promotion, Breeders’ Cup recently announced a $500,000 MMV promotion using QR Codes in lieu of more expensive home mail delivery.

And just last week, I received a copy of the Fasig-Tipton November Sale catalogue, which features QR Codes on each catalogue page.

The Fasig-Tipton sale is no ordinary horse sale to be sure. It’s a small, “boutique” sale—similar to the Saratoga Select Yearling Sale—featuring http://articles.cnn.com/images/pixel.gifmany of the elite broodmares, broodmare prospects, racing/broodmare prospects, horses of racing age and weanlings that will be offered at auction in North America.

The many accomplishments of these top prospects go well beyond what can be included in a traditional sales catalogue page. (In fact, the print edition of this year’s Fasig-Tipton catalogue is much larger than a standard horse sale catalogue. It’s also printed in color and includes a color photo with captions for each horse in the sale.)

As with any sales catalogue, there was a printing deadline for the Fasig-Tipton November Sales catalogue to accommodate a suitable delivery date to buyers located all over the world.  And just like a newspaper or racetrack program, the printed version of a catalogue becomes an almost instantly dated item the minute it is approved for printing.

Fasig-Tipton’s response to this problem was the addition of QR Codes, which drive users to Web pages that include up-to-date information for each horse in the catalogue. Fasig-Tipton is the first auction house to utilize QR Codes, but you can be sure the practice will spread. Information accessed through the QR Codes includes full pedigrees, important updates, consignor information, video race replays, past performances, media coverage and more. Click here for an example of what you see if you scan the QR Code for Pachattack, Hip #6.

Consignors also can link directly to these same Fasig-Tipton developed Web pages through their other forms of Internet-based advertising. Some of the horses for sale at Fasig-Tipton November have Facebook pages with thousands of followers. These, too, can be accessed directly through the QR Codes.

QR Codes are only the latest method utilized by Fasig-Tipton and other sales companies to promote horses and provide information to buyers. Prior to the QR Code, there were direct mailers of printed materials as well as VHS tapes (remember those?), CDs, DVDs, Thumb drives, et al. Today, with more and more marketing moving to the Web, Fasig’s move makes perfect sense.   

I encourage you to download a QR Code app and check out the way Fasig-Tipton and others in our industry are transforming Thoroughbred racing through the use of technology. It makes me wonder what else is around the corner.  

How else would QR Codes help market racing and wagering? Let me hear some of your ideas.



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