I was struck this week with the election of Mayor in the city of Toronto. Early on, the winner - Rob Ford - was chastised by many for not being broad enough or having all the 'big ideas'. The press seemed to dismiss him as he stuck to his one message over and over again - taxpayer respect. But over time this one simple message (while the other candidates tried to be everything to everyone with myriad ideas) stuck. His followers trumpeted that one simple message on twitter, facebook, to the print and electronic press - to whomever would listen. He won the Mayoral race in a shocking landslide.
His win was not at all surprising to marketers though, or those who follow Mr. Godin's books. Because it works.
We have some of this occurring in racing. Keeneland is having another successful meet and one thing Keeneland does well is know who they are. They focus on that one simple idea - a great, fun, wonderful day at the track - and they do not try to be everything to everyone. They have built a tribe of followers who brand their event and promote their event for them. Saratoga is not too dissimilar, and neither is Del Mar. The Horseplayers Association, of whom I am a member, focuses laser-like on one major item - takeout. For a small organization with no money and a leadership team of only four or five volunteers (with real jobs outside of it), this is Godin-esque, and the only way to grow, brand and get noticed for a fledgling group.
The Breeders Cup has been a bit of a mish-mash in their focus over the years - and this is not a criticism or any fault of the management there - it is just the way it is. Horse's are not very well known, and the event is not at all like a Super Bowl or World Series or a Ryder Cup. It simply does not have that one laser-focused item to use to grow, like so many other events. This year, however, they have it and they are not dropping the ball on the gift.
Her name is Zenyatta.
No horse in modern horse racing history has cut across demographic lines like she does (she is an Oprah "mover and shaker for 2010", for gosh sakes). No horse is more well-known by casual and non-casual fans alike. If you ask a casual fan on the street, he/she knows that the mare won the BC last time, and was the first "girl" to do so. When they see her name this year, trying to do it again, they are stoked to watch - and they tell people. On the flip-side, the speed fig guys and gals seem to want to see her prove them right - she is not fast enough on dirt and she will be more overbet than Dewey versus Truman. The Zenyatta "tribe" is alive and well.
For the latter fans, this years Breeders Cup marketing might make you scream - it's all Z all the time. But they are not speaking to you and me. We are going to watch already and have formed an opinion on the dirt sprint for example, by watching replays over and over of the contenders - contenders of which the casual fan would know less-of than they know of quantum physics.
Ongoing we will see more things like this:
- Press Releases focusing on her. Other horses will be talked about, but she will headline
- More commercials for the event in places like before the Secretariat movie focusing on her
- Facebook chatter on her facebook page, which has more fans than most humans
- A 60 minutes interview
- More visits from the Terrell Owens' of the world
- More headlines on prop bets and assorted gambling bets on offshore books, with special deals attached
- Head to toe, wall to wall Z coverage from October 31st, through November 7 with webcams and more
By staying focused on this big mare and her tribe, it will make this a very big Breeders Cup.