Being the biggest supporter of equestrian sports including, of course, horse racing, what’s always been a question mark is why Longines doesn’t have any ambassadors for the sport. Yes, it has brand ambassadors like Kate Winslet, Simon Baker, and former tennis megastars Stefi Graf and husband Andre Agassi, but, somewhat ironically, no actual racing ambassadors- which is a good a way as any to lead to Francesca Cumani.
With Longines sponsoring the CNN programme “Winning Post” hosted by Miss Cumani, surely she would bring added value and equity to the brand as their face of horse racing- and also more interest and appeal to a global sport desperately short of global heroes, no matter what those who only look and live in their own backyards might think?
American Pharoah, for example, might be the present and future of American racing, but this fame has not traveled that far outside of home base.
Able Friend and Joao Moreira might be a dynamic duo in Hong Kong, but, after that unsuccessful sojourn to Royal Ascot, any thoughts of global fame are in the file marked Pending. Moreira and Zac Purton are Group 1 winning jockeys who have won their share of big races, internationally, as have Ryan Moore, Christophe Soumillon and Frankie Dettori, but none have yet to be more than Group One winning jockeys, which makes one wonder if this is as good as it gets for these brilliant athletes.
And then there’s Francesca Cumani- poised, intelligent, articulate, engaging, attractive, credible, the daughter of trainer Luca Cumani, and a down-to-earth lady with substance- and great role model for every young- and not-so-young- girl out there with a love of horses and a passion for horse racing. She also has great taste in shoes and knows where to find the best dumplings in Hong Kong, but that’s neither here nor there…
As my friend, Toronto-based writer for Racing Future, Jenny Bridle — yes, her real surname — explained, “As a woman, I think Francesca is the women-in-racing measuring stick with her great sense of style, her total knowledge of the business of racing, and her love of horses. In her videos, she is never arrogant or condescending. Rather, she is a good listener and is always engaging. She appears very comfortable in herself and genuinely interested in what she is involved in, such as, for example, when she is filmed watching the horses on the gallops.
Add Jenny, “In her latest episode of Winning Post, ‘The Home of Horse Racing,’ Francesca takes us on a tour of Newmarket. She’s perfectly dressed, shares a bit about herself, and teaches viewers about the actual tracks and some of the terminology. She doesn’t go overboard on jargon and seems to genuinely want to teach viewers about her home. I wish she did more shows! There are no other women in racing who come close to her from a television broadcasting point of view.”
Has horse racing- the global world of horse racing- utilised Francesca Cumani to maximum effect to further the sport and give it the image it needs to move beyond “the punt” and to where the grass is greener on the sunny side of the street? No. Why not? Sadly, it has everything to do with the majority of those supposedly furthering the sport when, in reality, and behind the masks, they are either stunting its growth, or else covering up the fact that they’re not very good in their jobs.They are too focussed — too dependent — on numbers, “reach,” and metrics. If you truly know the product you are marketing, you know numbers are for consultants and academics. Having worked in the music and advertising business, numbers, and what the talking heads call “research”, just takes a given product backwards into a new, or very tired, old box.
Racing needs to be asking and extrapolating from big questions such as, why did Burger King fail in Hong Kong? Why did McDonalds succeed where Burger King failed and what the hell has onions- yes, onions- to do with this? Can McKinsey really tell us why which music streaming platform is the best and why Tidal is swimming with the fishes? Or when and where and how WeChat can be used to reach the huge Mainland Chinese audience?
Whatever happened to gut instinct? Racing should be using EQ- understanding its own fundamentally aspirational self. Numbers of Twitter followers with its “favourites” and “retweets” and “Klout” moments, YouTube “views”, or “likes” on Facebook are not reality. It’s a well orchestrated numbers game that’s hoodwinked many industries without them realising it. Racing should have the courage of its convictions- and big balls- to know when and how to use real people with real popularity…such as Francesca Cumani.
In a perfect world, or in an imperfect industry that is horse racing, Longines could further strengthen its already strong association with horse racing while staying true to their brand attribute of being all about elegance.
Francesca Cumani is all about elegance- and substance- and so are the ways in which the sport can be marketed and advertised- with the key strategy being all about aspiration unlike some of these daft “racing adverts” below that reek of confusion rather than fusion.
Though many in horse racing talk about the marketing of the sport, where can this product- PRODUCT- be seen? On 140 words or less on Twitter with zero creativity attached- literally? On those panel discussions amongst the usual zombie wobble heads of racing? The hours of paddock parades with around two minutes of racing every half an hour? The form guides? The racing pages in newspapers for the sport’s already captive market? The numerous tipping and betting sites for racing tragics?
What’s there for those on the outside looking in- and what will attract them to Pass Go and Collect $200? More to the point, what’s there in the way of a product, or content with legs to give this customer group a look into the world of racing- a positive and long-term picture of where it’s heading, and if there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or what’s waiting for them up the yellow brick road other than an arfing Toto?
The partnership of Longines, Francesca Cumani, CNN and “Winning Post” will continue, perhaps, bigger, and providing an even better (Big)!picture of horse racing. Where, however, is the next Francesca Cumani- and the next generation of racing hosts?
Again, here, Longines and Francesca Cumani can come together to find this new talent- not like some cheesy Donald Trump owned beauty contest where a “Miss Racing” is crowned- but as a credible, genuine, entertaining and aspirational global search for this next generation of onscreen racing talent to truly engage with the next generation of racing fans through different voices, fashions, music, views and lifestyles with the sport seen as being part of this aspirational life and style.
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc, Fast Track Global Ltd