Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Non-Racing Media Coverage and Branding Our Sport

Jennifer Wirth has taken it upon herself to contact newspapers asking for more racing coverage. It's a noble cause and it goes into the 'every little bit helps' file. While most of racing revenues come from betting, there is a huge need for branding. Branding can not only help turn a casual sports fan into a bettor, but it can drive eyeballs. We have said it 1000 times or more here on the blog: Eyeballs on our big events, and the revenue that can drive, is the future of the sport as a spectator avenue.

Taking it one step further, what else could racing be doing? If there was that central office, or if things like the RDSP in Ontario were passed, this might be easier because it would be funded. We don't have that of course. But I think we can still look at a few angles for some of our events that might be cost-effective.

In the 1000 channel universe, reality television is the new norm. Discovery Network, HGTV, Do it yourself, History Channel; you know all the culprits. Even network TV is littered with reality shows. No, this is not another cry for a horse racing reality show, but for a presence in the space.

Reality shows work because people watch them, but they also work because they are amazingly cheap, and there is alternative forms of revenue for them to add to the sale.

Coke pays big money to have their glasses displayed on American Idol, for example. On NBC's The Biggest Loser, turkey, zip-loc bags, diet supplements and many other products are paid for and promoted.

No one is saying we should pay big cash to be on these mainstream shows, because it does not fit; not even in the least does it make sense really. But how about some other ideas?

Photo Credit - Shooter Images
On American Chopper companies pay some major cash to be featured on bike builds. The company reps get to be on television and the bike when completed is a must-see. It brands the company.This is one expensive proposition and perhaps too pricey for racing, but you get the idea.

There are some cheaper avenues though, aren't there?

On Ice Pilots NWT, the Stanley Cup was recently flown around the Northwest Territories and it was the focus of the entire show, and the weeks lead-up to the episode. This is not unlike the Olympic Flame marketing discussed on R2. It brands the Cup.

What about flying people into the NWT on this airline for a Kentucky Derby party and having it covered in an episode, right down to the ice-filled mint juleps? It's freezing cold, it's fish out of water, it brings the event to people in a unique way, and it is cost-effective.

Brew Masters is another show which offers some neat branding possibles (although it appears the show has recently been canceled). In the show they created custom beers for companies, and featured the process and the meetings, not unlike American Chopper.

How about them brewing a Breeders Cup or Breeders Crown beer to be sold at the event and stoke some branding?

Just today in fact we have a little bit of this happening with Derby contender Mucho Macho Man. Superterrific was on this via twitter long ago.

I am sure you can think of dozens of other possible avenues.

Rome was not built in a day and I can tell you as a web marketer that works on branding, good vibes do not happen overnight. But it does work, if done right. We need to see more of it from racing, in my opinion. It takes planning, creativity and a little bit of cash; nothing more than that.

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