Often you need to step outside that restricting box or square or lazy comfort zone to ensure that insular thinking, aided and abetted by all those lemmings and toadies buzzing around, hasn’t resulted in navel gazing. Think of it as a vacation away from yourself in order to see things from a new perspective.
In any industry, there comes a time when there’s a need to sing, “Don’t follow leaders and watch your parking meters”. Even if you’re a leader.
Being relatively new to the horse racing industry, and trying to understand it so as the create and market a better product- a relevant product for those who don’t live, breathe and gamble on the sport 24/7, and a tremendously important customer segment if the sport is ever going to grow its audience above and beyond its hardcore, ageing and, often, one-dimensional captive audience- what those who have the power to make those decisions that lead to real change and not cosmetic changes to cover up the pock marks, need to remember are those words Grace Slick screamed out when with Jefferson Airplane: Feed Your Head.
There’s also a need to absorb the thinking of everyone from Steve Jobs and Roald Dahl to Lewis Carroll, Walt Disney, Steve Spielberg, Ray Croc, the music of Dylan, Cole Porter, Sinatra and the Beatles and the eye, passion and braveness of Martin Scorsese.
It stops one from being one-dimensional because the customer out there who cannot- and does not- want to read a totalisator board, or is too far down the road embracing everything else technology has already given them and available at their fingertips on Pirate’s Bay or Twitch or the “oldsters” at Apple, but with more than a passing interest in being part of horse racing is asking- and often screaming- “Show me quickly how I can also play without boredom setting in”.
Often-too often- when speaking to those in the racing world who believe they are in sync, or know the wants and needs of “the new Millenia”, there comes that moment when the Off switch goes on, and the mind shuts down.
Trotting out the same old same old about “Fashions on the field”, “eye candy”, “social media” and Jennifer Hawkins etc is not only boring, it’s irrelevant. It’s beyond passé. Blame the ageing trendies in the old boys clubs who cannot see that Gai Waterhouse and Francesca Cumani are not the only torch bearers of Female Power in racing. They are terrific ambassadors for the sport- under-utilised ambassadors, by the way- but times change and time brings about paradigm shifts.
In Hong Kong, at least, more and more, the real power behind the throne- and the power behind many of the horse owners in name only- and some of the most astute and influential supporters of the sport are women- strong powerful multi-faceted women. Horse racing is part of their investment portfolio along with playing the stock and property markets while expanding their entrepreneurial skills into other businesses.
Like nodding off when being preached to by those knee-deep in racing, listening to research companies, ad agencies and several “motivational speakers” have the same effect. So do all those conferences no matter what industry one might be in, where you fly around the world and believe you return to home base a more enlightened person having been privy to that over-used term, “a healthy exchange of ideas”, when, very often, you’ve been sold a pocketful of corporate mumbles that are sometime promises.
When all those old boys and old girls clubs get together to discuss being “more customer-centric” without a customer in sight in today’s consumer-driven world, it’s not just second-guessing this market by some old, well, fools, it’s just corporate bullshit.
Nothing sticks after these conferences are over no matter what crap is thrown against the wall and very few of all those “great ideas” at the time see the light of day once back at home base and facing reality. It might have all made sense then and there, but not in the here and now.
Listening recently to three hardcore racing pundits in the land of Oz discuss “content” for a new racing channel made my eyes roll so far back into their sockets, they almost shot out of the back of my head into Never Never Land.
Seldom had I heard such utter high-pitched jibber jabber- and from three individuals who one very much doubts have done “due diligence” by understanding that everyone has “ideas”. Turning those seemingly “easy “ideas” into big reality bites is something else- the pre-production process, production and post-production, and long before any of this, the creative thought process and strategic thinking that eventually leads to the end product- and original content.
Racing people being “creative” is often an oxymoron. They’re too close to the product. Many are too scared of change as they’re ill-prepared to accept where this change might lead and what to do once there. And, yes, they might even be found out to be dolts.
The technique is not the idea, something forgotten much too easily in order to get something/anything out there, and which, through knee-jerk reactions often dissipate into a case of the dreaded Whoopsies.
Gawd knows, this is not to say one has to Overthink and pummel something to death and end up with a purple coloured eight-headed camel through those well-known committee decisions where no one is prepared to take ownership. And again, where is the customer/consumer in this process?
The marketing of horse racing and creating a brave new world for the sport is now- a time when far bigger industries that still own most of the consumer leisure activities pie are being attacked from all sides through illegal everything. Hello and Welcome to the online world that’s ruled and owned by the consumer. Imagine Facebook or YouTube or Twitter surviving even one day without consumer-generated content. They’ll be what they were when first launched: empty delivery platforms.
The racing industry can learn much from so many blueprints for disaster- it’s that Know Your Enemy line of thinking- and make the sport much more “mainstream” and “customer friendly”. And “customer friendly” will never happen in boardrooms via committee decisions.
It’s stating the obvious that only by working with and listening to the consumer can anything become “consumer friendly”. What’s truly mind-boggling is how often the obvious goes over so many heads like long lost homing pigeons.
The question is how many racing clubs have those who can, or who are given the creative freedom to think without the blinkers and winkers on and not saddled by past baggage still in the hands of leaders past their Use By Date?
Are these people- these leaders- the reason why many in the creative field outside of horse racing are not attracted to the industry? And is this why those “new hires” are always from that old well which those tired Human Resources people keep going back to time and time again, which results in the same old- and older- products being resurrected more times than Ric Astley and the Hula Hoop? Let that one sink in. It’s a tad outré.
Creative people can often be petulant, difficult and pain in the arses, but they are needed in the horse racing industry and given the freedom to create in very specific areas of the business where they trust/respect those with whom they will work with as a team. They rarely work “for” anyone. When this talent comes together, the work stands out as its lengths ahead of what is usually expected of horse racing- the bland and the listless, which is a waste of time and money. If there is Muzak, then this work becomes Adzak.
During this year’s Royal Ascot, apart from the exploits of Ryan Moore, the pomp and ceremony of the event, and all the equine talent, there was a high level of creativity- mainly, the consumer-generated fashions.
The question is, And now what? That’s it for another year? After every racing carnival anywhere in the world finishes, And then what? These can’t continue to be something akin to a one night stand.
Say what you might about American racing, but the marketing of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has been nothing short of phenomenal. Weeks after he created history, the cult of American Pharoah continues attracting stars- and fans- like actress Julia Roberts, along with being on the covers of some of the most popular magazines in the world, and with, surely, a movie deal on the table. It might be as showbiz as American politics, but, hell, it’s great for the sport.
Does the racing media in other racing jurisdictions, and racing clubs, even THINK of piggy backing with all this publicity to bring their racing into the mainstream consciousness? Of course not. It’s actually something positive about the sport. And that’s not “newsworthy”, right? There’s no cobalt involved or race rigging or whatever is le plat de jour of negativity.
In advertising, when working on global brands, a sustaining campaign is as important as a launch campaign. Horse racing is a global brand, yet remains fragmented in its marketing, image and awareness. It is yet to be marketed and promoted as a global product whereas a sustaining campaign is seemingly as impossible to master as Master Sting’s tantric yoga positions, where he can contain his orgasm for five hours. Why Baba Sting would wish to go through this ordeal is a completely different subject for another day.
To today’s consumer in that 24/7 online world, the globalisation of racing and sustaining its interest level is the perfect opportunity to bring the sport together with one of its biggest sponsors- Longines. By also owning the Intellectual Property Rights to Longines World’s Best Jockey and Longines World’s Best Horse Rankings, surely, it makes sense?
To the established, and new racing fan with other interests, it can finally give them a look into the sport’s Big Picture- its main attractions and all those other attractions consumers will find for themselves without having to be spoon-fed so they can spit it out. Look what’s happened to all those music companies who thought they could always tell music fans what to buy.
Back to racing, that old marketing adage about thinking locally and acting globally should mean generating content beyond those country-specific big race days with a few simulcasts thrown in almost as an after-thought because that’s how it’s always been: A teddy bear’s picnic of mumbling and vapid wobble heads.
Generating interesting, strategic, different content and initiatives is how the sport can reinvent itself and become a “one world” melting pot that seamlessly attracts consumer-generated content that makes being “customer-centric” more than a Corporate Speak buzz phrase picked up at some weekend workshop session.
Online delivery platforms and standing outside of the square to view the terrain differently, and understand how the other half see the sport, and what’s needed to invite and attract them into this new world is a fascinating challenge.
It won’t happen through talk amongst the usual suspects, and leaders who, ironically and sadly, “lead” by following everything that’s come before with their legion of Old Spice lemmings falling off the precipice with them in the process.
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc, Fast Track Global Ltd
FROM THE RACING TWITTERVERSE
THE INSIDE TRACK
WHY RYAN MOORE IS THE BEST JOCKEY IN THE WORLD TODAY.
CHAD SCHOFIELD GROWS UP.
It might have been a steep learning curve in Hong Kong for Damien Lane who’s not exactly been inundated with rides with winning chances and hit by two successive suspensions, but we’re tipping a much easier baptism of fire for Chad Schofield, 20, when he starts his riding stint in Hong Kong next season.
Yes, there are the critics in, especially, Melbourne who shake their heads and says the young jockey is coming out here two years too early, but Schofield The Younger handles himself with a maturity that belies his age, his time with Ed Dunlop in the UK would only have helped and dad Glyn who rode here with considerable success is certain to have prepped him for his Big Hong Kong Adventure. He rides light, he’s sure to have stable support and should be a welcome addition to the local riding ranks.
Same goes for Richard Fourie, another lightweight jockey who made a big impression in the one season he rode here.
The big question is without the presence of Olivier Doleuze and the widely tipped Adieu from Gerald Mosse whether the very popular and hard working Andy Suborics, refused a licence for next season, might just get a reprieve.
“Suby” is extremely popular with everyone and when on those rare occasions when given a ride with a winning chance he’s delivered as he did on Wednesday aboard Lightning Pegasus and Caga Force.
MEANWHILE IN GARYWORLD…
We missed meeting our old mate Gary Moore when he was in Hong Kong last month, but those who met him tell us that Brother John no longer requires his services. Or as Gazza is supposed to have put it-with a laugh, “Brother John has fired me!”
Say what you might about Gazza- “He’s mad”, “He’s stolen that coat from the doorman at the Mandarin Oriental”, “He’s really overdone the Botox this week”- no one can rein in his ebullient personality. Garyworld is full of optimism- some might say, cockeyed optimism. Though things might not exactly going his way since returning to Sydney to take up training down there, there’s still a spring in his step and that all-too-familiar trait to tip all his runners as winners.
Gary “Gazza” Moore really is the poor man’s Gai Waterhouse, but we seriously doubt he cares what anyone thinks. Garyworld is a very unique place.
QUEALY OR QUEASY?
If anyone of you watched the Channel 4 documentary on Frankel and was wondering why jockey Tom Quealy was a no-show, this is, apparently, the reason: Quealy was asking for a six figure appearance fee.
Seriously now, how many winners has Tom Quealy ridden since his Frankel days? And how many recall his disastrous stint in Hong Kong when he had to prove his worth- minus Frankel?
THE LOVEABLE L’ENFANT TERRIBLE – ERIC SAINT MARTIN- TRAINS HIS FIRST WINNER!
PETER MOODY AND WAYNE HAWKES AS YOU NEVER EVER WANNA SEE THEM AGAIN!
SEPARATED AT BIRTH
SEPARATED AT BIRTH
SEPARATED AT BIRTH
THE FAST TRACKER AND HIS DAY IN THE SUN
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LONG SHOT: RACE 10 JETWINGS (7)