We’ve mentioned this time and time again, and we’ll keep banging on about it until either someone listens, or we just give the two finger salute and ride off into the sunset singing “Happy Trails”, but the level of creativity permeating outta racing organisations just keeps missing the mark- over and over again.
Apart from the superb creative product from France Gallop promoting this year’s Arc, nothing has come within sniffing distance of being work that can win an International award for creative excellence, and which can help raise the bar and also- what’s key- attract good creative talent as long-term partners in the production of a Group 1 creative product.
This, in turn, can attract forward-thinking sponsors who can help move the sport forward and into the much wider world of sports entertainment from which horse racing remains shut out. Horse racing really is the Rodney Dangerfield of sports and much of the blame for this lies in the fragmented management of the industry as a global entity.
In an industry where often one wonders about the business acumen of those running racing clubs other than wagering- and even this, many, like Racing NSW get horribly wrong with their Dinkie Toy racing- would any racing organisation have approved the theme, “Just Do It”? Or had the courage of their convictions to approve Nike’s famous “swoosh” logo? Or run an ad without the obligatory headline?
Any good copywriter, art director, production house or creative director takes immense pride in their work, no matter how small it might be. They defend this work fiercely as it’s what drives them. It’s a passion that’s part of their DNA.
What makes these people lose interest, and with it, inspiration, is when the safety valve is tightly and uptightly screwed shut, the work chosen- or demanded- is to appeal to the lowest common denominator and approved in an environment of fear- the fear of failure, the fear of change, the fear of being found out as being mediocre, and the fear of fear itself.
Most racing clubs are seriously constipated by those, who not wishing to be decisive, create committee decisions where no one knows what’s going on, is unable to see the forest for the trees, and where the needs of consumer are seldom factored in.
As long as a graphic of a horse is bunged in for no other reason other than this is how it’s always been, and trying to second-guess the person above them, screw the creative credo of an ROI: Is the work Relevant, Original and does it have Impact with the end consumer?
Right now, what racing clubs have are order takers who only work towards confusing everyone, and playing the blame game.
Those creatives with CVs bulging with international awards and proven track records for producing work that has also gained market share and created strong branding are not interested in working with order takers. They have worked with the best- extremely good account directors and clients- and don’t suffer fools gladly.
They are also not interested to work with those who might have the word “marketing” on their name cards, but remain oblivious to the wants and needs of today’s consumers as they simply don’t know- or want to know- that the creative process is not a 9 to 5 job. It’s 24/7 of passion.
Sadly, many in racing clubs wishing to market their product to the new racing fan- the technology savvy and entrepreneurial racing fan with their own businesses and who deal with their own creative teams- base “strategies” on second and third hand knowledge or information that are hand-me-downs.
This is why when it comes to connecting with this thirtysomething consumer group, they are constantly behind the eight-ball.
By the time, a racing club discovers what’s “trending” in social media, it’s already “trended” whereas looking at the so-called “adverts” and promo spots “created” to promote various racing events- let’s not forget Australia’s farcical “Relaxed Racing” and the wombat droppings promoting “the chumpionships”-they are cliche-riddled pastiches of what a racing executive who has only recently read a book on David Ogilvy thinks advertising should look like, and- gawd no- believes they are suddenly creative directors.
Horse racing is an exciting, exhilarating, colourful sport full of sound and vision.
Has any of this been effectively captured and presented, especially to the new generation of racing fans- or “refreshed” for the long-time supporter of the sport?
If not, why not? Guess.
Thankfully, the HKJC is out-sourcing their work to the best talent it can find built around a horses for courses strategy, while realising and owning up that some of the internal hires might have reached their level of incompetence and Use By Date.
It’s nothing personal, it’s just business, and racing clubs can’t be run like some hobby horse for mugs.
Why this can happen in Hong Kong is that the HKJC is led by a CEO, who wasn’t only the city’s very best Director of Racing, he possesses an analytic mind that works like a calculator on monkey glands, and has the ability to crossover to that other dimension- yes, like Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone- where there live that species called consumers, who feed the horse racing industry and keeps it ticking over.
One dimensional thinking leads to a one dimensional, constipated industry, and where there is usually a Nero fiddling while his Rome burns around him with his sycophants allowing it to happen despite going down in flames with the Titanic. Who needs icebergs?