We are a couple days away from the final leg of the Tripe Crown, with the race at Belmont Park scheduled for June 7th. California Chrome, who will be allowed to wear his nasal strips, will attempt to become only the 12th horse in history to win at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.
A horse threatening to complete this feat must be music to the ears of NBC, marketing affiliates and anyone who will be collecting bets or doing race related business on June 7th. People are excited to see California Chrome attempt to make history and last month it was reported that ticket prices were up 48% since California Chrome had won the Preakness Stakes. This isn’t too dissimilar to the lesson I learned back in March, when I watched the price of Sweet 16 and Elite 8 tickets to Madison Square Garden climb sharply as my UCONN Huskies advanced (by the way, the price of admission to see the boys in blue take down MSU was worth every penny). Similarly, you’ll probably recall that leading up to the Super Bowl, the expert’s discussed how the different teams that could potentially advance would impact the cost of tickets on the secondary market. There is no doubt in my mind that while we cheer on our favorite teams, athlete, or horse, for the love of the game, there are a number of business men and women who are simply hoping for the outcome that will provide the greatest exposure for their brands, excitement and potential for revenue.
We have no control over the outcome of sporting events, or other current events for that matter, but when moments like this come along, marketers should be prepared to take advantage of the situation. I know that I heard and saw local Connecticut businesses leveraging the excitement in our state in their marketing and communications during and after the NCAA tournament. I am sure those in horse racing are thinking of ways to leverage a Triple Crown winner, should they be provided one.
Sporting events are unpredictable – but those brands that are prepared to quickly react to the unexpected, and any and all potential outcomes, will be well served. Social media has changed the game, requiring those reactions to be even more rapid (who can forget Oreo’s show-stealing stunt that went viral on Twitter during the 2013 Super Bowl?). I’m excited to see what happens on social media on race day, especially if the stars align for California Chrome. I’m sure a handful of brands have already mocked up some images to be shared on social media, depending on the outcome.
Panasonic is an example of one brand that must be interested in the results – they installed the world’s largest 4K video board at Churchill Downs for this years Kentucky Derby, showing off their technical prowess and demonstrating new technology. This move has already resulted in ample earned media for the brand, but wouldn’t you expect Panasonic to be rooting for a Triple Crown winner? This result may mean more interest in horse racing in 2015, a larger television audience for next years Kentucky Derby, and more exposure for their technology.
Will you be watching the Belmont Stakes on Saturday? What are your predictions? Who will the big winners be, both on the track and on social media?