Spokesmen or Advertising?

Jack Darling recently floated out the idea of a "game changer" for harness racing, which involves taking some cash and hiring a guy like Gretzky to promote the sport. This is nothing new of course as it has been happening for many years.

Putting on my marketing opinion hat for a moment, I believe that trying something like this can be on a list, but we have dozens of other things to try first. Having said that, let's have a look at pure advertising, testimonial or otherwise as it is the topic at hand.

Seth Godin speaks often about how businesses with a crutch (eg negative stereotypes and negative branding) are the toughest to dig out of a hole. Harness racing certainly has its share of those - it's old, it's slow, you can "beat a race but you can't beat the races". How do we attack that on television for example? It costs money and takes time, focusing on a single message, in my opinion.

Audi is a great example of a type of systematic message-driven marketing. With their last two Super Bowl ads their message has held firm, and I believe they have completely changed this brand, by forging a space in the customers mind. First they led with one of the more popular Super Bowl commercials of all time, the "Green Police". This irreverent look at the enviro-landscape was edgy, fun and was targeted to the younger, well off customer. It also generated a huge amount of discussion.

This year they were back - by continuing the brand messaging. This time, another excellent commercial about old versus new.

According to an Audi VP: "”Today’s luxury consumer exists in a world where status is no longer solely defined by tradition, but increasingly by their entrepreneurial accomplishments. As a result, they are seeking out new and more evolved luxury symbols that make them stand out from the crowd.”

Carving out your niche by attacking the past and planting your message in someones mind is not only for Audi, it can be for harness too.

Attacking that for harness racing does not need a spokesman, but it does need some time, money and a vision. What that vision exactly is and how to accomplish it is up for discussion, but it is something that can help us. Unfortunately, with no one willing to spend a dime of slots money and no structure, it is probably wishful thinking.

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