SBD/March 31, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Will Kegasus Campaign Help Preakness Draw Larger Crowd To Infield?

Maryland Jockey Club President & COO Tom Chuckas is "confident" the Preakness Stakes "can get back to its big draws," according to Gary Mihoces of USA TODAY. Chuckas: "I'm very, very confident that the 2011 Preakness will be in excess of 100,000." Chuckas noted that there were "about 30,000" people in the infield for last year's race, and he added that "'in a perfect world' he'd like to get 50,000." The MJC Tuesday unveiled its marketing campaign based around the character Kegasus, which was developed by Elevation, Ltd., DC, the same company that developed last year's "Get Your Preak On" campaign. Chuckas said that there was some thought of sticking with that campaign. But he added, "I just wanted to refresh it ... and see if we could come up with another strategy that kind of made people stand up and notice." Chuckas said that "bad fan behavior was behind the decision to end the bring-your-own" alcohol policy in the infield. Mihoces wonders, "How does he square the party 'manimal' image of Kegasus with the objective of curtailing excessive behavior?" Chuckas: "It's the people's race. It's the people's party. We want people to have a great, fantastic time and party. But we also want civility and harmony" (USA TODAY, 3/31).

NOT A FITTING REPRESENTATIVE: In Baltimore, Kevin Cowherd writes of the new campaign, "Tell me this is some kind of joke. ... Kegasus makes 'Get Your Preak On' look like Shakespeare in the park." Cowherd: "This is the best the Maryland Jockey Club could do to sell the fabled middle jewel of racing's Triple Crown? A half-man, half-horse who ... looks like every bleary-eyed low-life who's ever been led out of the infield in handcuffs by the cops? ... Do we really want a hard-partying knucklehead named Kegasus to be the image of this wonderful day of thoroughbred racing?" (Baltimore SUN, 3/31). Also in Baltimore, Laura Vozzella writes under the header, "The Wrong Party Animal." Vozzella: "Leave it to an out-of-town ad agency to invent a mythological creature when Baltimore has authentic, homegrown party animals better suited to promote boozing and betting in the Preakness infield" (Baltimore SUN, 3/31).
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