While watching The Championships at Randwick over the weekend, we had to wonder how many bangs for their buck sponsors BMW and Longines were receiving for their sponsorship dollars.

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Forget words like “awareness” and “aspiration” and seeing “all the signage around the track”.

These are intangibles- and stock answers- that either sidestep the bigger question of value-for-money and how this partnership was a win-win situation for all parties.

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Like brands sponsoring Rock concerts, after all these years, sponsorship of horse racing is either under starter’s orders, or, working with many at racing clubs who can only understand what has been done for decades as part of Corporate Speak, are kidding themselves that many of what is produced has any impact with the customer.

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How many racing fans remember ANY of these brands after and during the raves?

Do they “aspire” to own any of these brands?

Do they care?

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Apart from BMW using its theme line- The Ultimate Driving Machine- on the barriers at every race during Championship Week and having their corporate boxes for VIP guests and business partners, it all seemed as off-kilter as Chivas Regal sponsoring a Black Eye Peas concert in Shanghai a few years ago and believing the brand could get those in the audience- a young audience- switch from wine or vodka or champagne to a scotch that was very much their Grandpa’s drink of choice.

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What’s happening right now between sponsors of horse racing is a huge disconnect with what surely be the primary market: the race-goer- especially, the race-goer in the Members Area. The plebs can aspire and perspire.

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Corporate Speak talking to Corporate Speak takes any brand nowhere.

In Hong Kong, the hugely successful Sa Sa cosmetic brand knows its consumer, understands its role in the success of horse racing and makes its Sa Sa Ladies Day something like a celebration to beauty- and, through various on-course events, appeal to various age groups and socio-economics groups.

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Sa Sa really pulls out all its big guns and look at “naming rights” as bragging rights and a photo opportunity- though a traditional medium like newspapers don’t allow the names of brands in their coverage as this is seen to be “advertising”.

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From a business level, Sa Sa realizes it must hold on to to its aging and captive market plus attracting the new and next generation of consumers and uses its Ladies Day, accordingly- and which they do by taking ownership of the day- on and off-course- with a number of events that carry on after the last race has been run.

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As for BMW and Longines, they have been good for horse racing- and on a global scale- and horse racing has been good for both brands by giving them something they can call their own.

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As Vidal Sassoon once said in his advertising, “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good”, and here is where team work must come into play using each other’s strengths, and, communicating- effectively- with the consumer through social media, through on and off-the-field events, new inter-active ways of marketing events like The Championships through pre and post-race marketing strategies whilst looking at reaching consumers through initiatives that have as yet to be thought about, or new ideas often stopped in their tracks through too many cooks in the kitchen and way too much internal navel gazing.

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Getting back to the Championships and forgetting somewhat hackneyed marketing plans that must include the obligatory television commercial and token advertisement, it’s a pity if Longines and BMW didn’t find ways to hitch themselves to the successes of Tommy Berry, James McDonald, Gai Waterhouse, Lankan Rupee and The Offer.

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Perhaps they did and we missed it- and if they didn’t, it was a great marketing opportunity missed.

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THE FAST TRACKER PREPARES FOR A BUMPY RIDE AHEAD AT SHATIN.

Last Wednesday wasn’t exactly top draw racing, but the Wednesday night crowd, on-course, as opposed to those who bet online or through Telebet and even the off-course betting centers, don’t really care.

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They attend the races to soak up the atmosphere and, for a $10 entrance fee, they get real value for money and, for newbies, a crash course in a sport they’re trying to get around with an initial “punting strategy” based around the most popular jockeys in town.

This is why The Jockey Challenge is something that needs to marketed better than having nymphets sashaying aimlessly around the stage of the Beer Garden holding up some numbers which few take any notice of as they’re many far more interested in judging the onstage Battle Of The Butts.

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The doubles by Joao Moreira and Zac Purton helped many of these newbies end up in front when it came to winning on the night while the Beer Garden became the Happy Garden with a flash mob and others getting Happier to the sounds of the Pharrell Williams’ hit Happy.

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The doubles by The Zac Attack and The Magic Man aside, one thing that was disappointing was seeing and hearing very little- nothing, in fact- about the very good ride by Vincent CY Ho on Very Well to overhaul Jade Pippo right on the post.

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Dougie Whyte gave a great display to settle Jade Pippo- a very highly-strung horse at the best of times- and looked set for a cosy win and with the Durban Demon wasting to ride at 116 pounds not going down the gurgler- until Ho brought Very Well down the outside to win by a nostril hair.

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Let’s spread some of the praise around when it comes to good rides and not just keep it all with the usual suspects and mates.

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As for today’s races- Tye Angland won’t be riding and- ridiculously- Zac Purton, who only had a handful of rides, is the main beneficiary when it’s come to replacement jockeys- it’s a tough looking card with plenty of value around.

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