This past weekend, Justify took the lead as winning horse in Louisville at the Kentucky Derby. This year’s race marks the 144th consecutive year of the Kentucky Derby. It’s one of the oldest US sporting events and with more than 150,000 attendees each year and millions of viewers at home, it’s a marketers dream.
“From a media exposure standpoint, that on-site branding brings tremendous value beyond any sponsorship fee.” Catie Griggs
The race brought in 15 million viewers this year on television and other digital platforms. It has become such a popular event for branding because it casts a wide net. Your audience can range from your high end consumer to your millennial. The different price point seating sections determine where a company will want to advertise. For example, the infield seating usually hosts a younger crowd where you’ll find Bacardi and Vineyard Vines pushing their brand. If you’re looking for the upscale crowd, companies like Sentient Jet, a private aviation company, will be up at the Mansion to sell to the elite. They hosted a breakfast by Bobby Flay and private flights to and from Louisville for the race.
Being in the Action
Marketing at the Derby this year was not just about pushing product, but creating an experience with the audience. Corona, for example, was well aware that the Derby fell on their #1 holiday. They created a “Cinco de Derby” selfie station which was, of course, a huge hit.
“This is really a social gathering between races, and the brands are trying to bring something of value, beyond ad messages.” Kristin Warfield
Zyrtec was also in on the action giving makeovers to those struggling with allergy eyes, Ram Truck filled up the back of their vehicles with thousands of roses for prime photo opportunities, and Woodford Reserve was making race-themed cocktails ($1,000 mint julep to support Jennifer Lawrence’s art foundation anyone?)
After the Race
While the main event only lasts about two minutes, the racetrack keeps up with its marketing partnerships throughout the year. Churchill Downs racetrack combines “nightlife with horse racing.” They have specific nights dedicated to after-work happy hours, weekend nights with live bands, food trucks and drink specials, all centered around the race. The racetrack is a year round advertising hub.
So get your biggest hat out and channel your inner southern belle at next year’s Kentucky Derby, and be in on all of the marketing action.
Marketing has never been more complicated. Wading through the flood of new technologies to stay ahead of the latest trends is a constant challenge for CMOs. Enter Transformational CMO Day.
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