Horse Racing – a mass market appeal for brands

February 28, 2011

I am not bias, clinic but horse racing is the greatest sport in the world! Officially it is the second biggest sport in Britain after football in terms of TV audiences, look revenue and attendance. In 2008 horse racing had four of the top eight attended sporting events in the UK with total attendances of nearly 6 million.

At present we are in challenging global economic times; however horse racing, the sport steeped in tradition, is growing in popularity with attendances rising year on year and more distinguished brands such as Sony, Investec, Ryanair, Aon, Jaguar and John Smiths focussing their marketing activities to the sport.

Why you might ask..? A simple explanation could be that horseracing has the right ingredients to make a brand successful.

The sport offers a broad audience with an appeal to both male and female participants. Horse racing also commands a high level of media output (visually), for example in 2009 the cumulative domestic terrestrial TV audience was approximately 450 million. The sport also has few commercial limitations and has a proven track record to market products effectively (e.g. John Smiths Grand National).

Over the last 2 years and at the moment we work with Rooster Potatoes, a family business for more than 60 years, and Britain’s leading grower and packer of potatoes. The company is currently using the American actress Marcia Cross, the star from ‘Desperate Housewives’, in their national TV adverts. In addition they also use horse racing to maximise their marketing needs, sponsoring at the Cheltenham Festival and several other key Jockey Club Racecourses together with being principle commercial partner to the two times Champion jockey and Coolmore rider Jamie Spencer.

Why do they use horse racing..? Most importantly their investments within the sport are an integrated and cost effective marketing approach that reinforces the brand image (retention), broadens awareness and reaches new audiences (recruitment). It has also been a proven method of acquiring new business (revenue streams) and their corporate hospitality participation has been a worthy technique of developing client loyalty.

Horse racing offers a media cut-through; there are few precincts for entry and a multitude of diverse commercial packages to exploit. It is not about the ‘90 minutes’ experience but conversely about the event, the longevity and the lasting legacy that adds the value to the brand.

We are seeing a real upturn in investment and interest from brands. The candid realisation is that the sport is constantly improving and being innovative in its ideas e.g. the creation of the ‘British Champions Series’ (the richest fixture in British racing history), the conception of ‘Racing For Change’ and even the introduction of music events to complement a day’s racing.

Horseracing offers an exclusive, desirable and respected ‘shop window’ for brands to gain acceptance. I am still bias!?

Nicholas Whittle – A graduate of Manchester University, Nicholas Whittle has over 10 years’ business experience in the sports and entertainment world, gaining significant hand-on exposure to the areas of talent & personality management, rights ownership, brand development, media distribution, contract negotiation and provision of wealth management services. Nicholas started his career at World Sports Solutions, a company specialising in athlete representation and brand consultancy to professional sports teams. He then took up a position within the Formation Group (now SportFive). In 2004 Nicholas set up, developed and managed Nicholas Whittle into a successful sport and entertainment creative agency. His keen interest in the sport has been cultivated and encouraged through a strong family background in the racing world.