Plugged In: Kristin Warfield, Churchill Downs
Kristin Warfield is vice president of partnerships for Churchill Downs Inc., where she oversees marketing relationships with the iconic racetrack’s corporate partners such as Yum!, Pepsi, Ram and others, as well as overall marketing initiatives for the home of the Kentucky Derby. The track has spent millions in recent years on new VIP areas for the event, which draws in excess of 160,000. Now, Churchill Downs is looking to expand its brand globally.
Our goal with the Derby, we’ve tapped out on-site attendance. … So growth of our brand is going to come from off-site eyeballs. And yes, America is part of that, but the rest of the world is part of that, too. Awareness and enthusiasm around the Derby throughout the entire globe is important to us. Whatever that leads to, is it licensed merchandise, is it a worldwide view of sponsorship, is it, eventually, special travel packages? We are exploring all of that.”
On digital growth: If you are not mobile-enabled, you are missing a large part of the market because the world likes to do things on a 2-inch-by-3-inch screen and you have to change with the times. We have changed our website to make it much more mobile friendly, and we are also very active on all different forms of social media. You will see some exciting things from Snapchat and things like that coming out. We have an ever-growing Facebook and Twitter page. We have a very high engagement rate and a low drop-off rate, so we are using those mechanisms to communicate with our fan base on a consistent and frequent basis.
A story you’re watching: My favorite current non-horse racing story I am watching is whether or not the NBA comes to Louisville. There’s lots of opinions on that, but I personally think it would be an exciting thing to see an NBA team come here to Kentucky. … We’ve got a minor league baseball team. We’ve got a huge following for college athletics between U of L and U of K, and we have Churchill, which is great. But you have to drive to Cincinnati or Nashville or Indianapolis to go to a major sports league event.