Horse racing has it all- a wonderful palette of colour, action, some of the most beautiful animals in the world- and yet, as we hurtle towards another new year, none of this has truly been captured in a creative way, and presented to, not only fans of the sport, but those who are standing on the periphery saying, “Go ahead, convince me” before dipping their toe in.
The music industry, where one expects crackling creativity in how it presents itself, because of its association with some incredibly cutting edge artists- Pharrell, Damon Albarn, Bowie, Ben Folds Five etc- stopped being creative decades ago thinking, perhaps, Who bother?
Why bother? Because without constantly checking to see if the wheels have fallen off- and recognising when they have- it means plodding along saddled with useless excessive baggage.
Historically, racing is not associated with creativity. It’s all about the punt and the thrill of winning and wagering will always be the key driver of the sport.
It should and must be as it’s the motherlode, but should this be the be all and end all?
Is this taking racing fans- established and potential- for granted, and keeping the sport in the barriers for too long, or simply going around and around in paddock parades we have watched for decades which have become a blinkered snoozefest?
Take a look at the logos produced for racing- racing clubs, venues at racing clubs and racing events.
Where’s that point of difference?
Okay, perhaps there is a need to show a horse, but must they all have to look the same?
Then again, if a venue is actually in a racecourse, or there are the words, “horse racing”, must consumers be beaten into submission by the obvious? And the redundant?
When in advertising, what drove many of us was to win an award for creative excellence- a Clio in New York, a Gold Lion in Cannes, and, these days, especially, winning a coveted Webby.
When was the last time, a piece of creative for horse racing won any of these awards-or any award for creative excellence?
Yes, winning any of these awards is great for one’s portfolio and self-branding, but it’s also great for any brand as it enhances its image and introduces the product to a new audience.
Winning one of these awards also attracts better creative talent, or creative talent who remain gun-shy about working with and for racing clubs as, more often than not, that freedom to create is cut-off at the pass,and at the knees by pseudo everything over-thinking boffins and committees.
After ceaseless meetings and approvals of approvals, what’s created might be “groundbreaking” to these people whose idea of “adverts” and advertising executives is something seen in Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies, or having read “The Long Tail”, but which has no impact with consumers.
In other words, there’s the Fear Of Change, and so, playing it safe and appealing to the lowest common denominator, becomes the internal edict, and damn the end consumer.
For two decades, some have tried to bring music companies and racing clubs together in order to push that creative envelope.
This envelope has still to be opened as both sides have come from a place of distrust and selfish motives.
Both parties have also done a piss poor job in presenting their strengths to each other- racing clubs and their hardware and ready-made audience, and music companies having the software and, so many new artists signed, but, weirdly, kept on the shelf and never promoted despite “global releases” of their recordings gathering dust on the shelves of local music company offices.
Why nothing happens despite all those tedious lunches that end with that token line that goes, “We’ll go back and think about things, and get back to you”, is because no one knows what the hell to do as both sides have not moved away from- yawn- premium or branded CDs, sync deals- these have nothing to do with the recording side of a music company, anyway- and flogging some artists for ‘live’ performances AFTER the races- defeats the point of bringing the sport and music together, doesn’t it?- or some racing event made up of a Celine Dion-type audience being given an Eminem. Scary, dude.
For over twenty years, this unholy alliance between music companies, concert promoters and artist management and racing clubs has plodded along as a goofy Remix where none of the parts fit.
Is trying to work with music companies backing the wrong horse when, with the right roller deck, one can work directly with artists?
Why not, for example, broaden horizons and look at new business partners like LEGO?
LEGO has made an incredible comeback from being a dated brand for kids to reinventing itself, tying in with big entertainment brands- there is today, LEGO Batman, LEGO Beatles, LEGO Lord Of The Rings, even a LEGO Juniors Game called Pony- and winning over a hip, new audience while building some brilliant inter-active promotions with consumers a la Kickstarter or the Dragon’s Den where ideas can be submitted, and if they get the right amount of votes, become produced as part of the LEGO family.
It’s been one helluva successful rebranding exercise with success rubbing off on other brands and taking LEGO where it has never gone before.
A LEGO Happy Valley or Shatin Racecourse, or a LEGO Spring Carnival, or a LEGO Happy Valley Happy Wednesday game?
Why not, especially as a consumer has already submitted a LEGO Hong Kong that includes the HKJC’s Shatin racecourse and what’s termed “The HKJC Standard Chartered Marathon”?
We are surrounded by examples of amazing creativity everywhere we look, and there is no reason why horse racing shouldn’t change with the times. Push that creative envelope.
When it comes to taking chances and seeing if there’s a way to work with LEGO, or anyone from the global creative community, why stand on ceremony?
As that great philosopher Nike says, if you want something done, don’t depend on anyone.
Believe in your convictions, and Just Do It!