Is Derby One of The Greatest Marketing Campaigns?

Derby Weekend is only days away, have you taken advantage of all the fun? So, as we all know the Kentucky Derby is a big deal around these parts, but why?  Check out this great blog by, Leah Weisman, and see why she thinks it could be “One of The Greatest Marketing Campaigns!”

Thanks! -Carlos

How excited are you for Derby? Did you get your Pegasus Pin, visit the Chow Wagon, see the hot air balloons? Even if you aren’t from Louisville, you might have plans to throw or attend a Kentucky Derby party and you’re looking forward to wearing fancy clothes and drinking a mint julep or two.

For those who don’t live here, the anticipation for Derby fires up at full steam two weeks before at Thunder Over Louisville, complete with exciting flyovers above the Ohio River, culminating in one of the largest firework shows in the world.

Just for a two-minute long race the first Saturday of May.

I shouldn’t say “just”. The Kentucky Derby is the first of the three races top thoroughbred horses will fight to qualify for. Some might argue it’s the poshest race of the three and Churchill Downs reported a record 160,000 in attendance in 2012. But really, this is a lot of hooplah over a two-minute long horse race.

Why? Louisville does it up right. Louisville has created one of the most effective marketing campaigns that draws national attention to our mid-sized city. Here are the top three qualities of Louisville’s Derby Festival that make it so effective in promoting the Kentucky Derby year after year:

1. It’s Memorable

The Kentucky Derby is steeped in tradition and is the only horse race that has been going uninterrupted for 138 years. Everybody thinks of beautiful hats and outfits and Bourbon when it comes to Derby and it means even more to Louisvillians. Everyone in Louisville looks forward to the events of the Derby Festival every year and it really is unforgettable.

Back in the recesses of your mind, old advertising jingles or slogans still lie there dormant. Marketing campaigns exist to make an impression.

2. It’s Unique

There really is only one Kentucky Derby. Sure, there are other horse races but none of them are like the Derby. Churchill Downs, which is usually a more modest place to see some horses race and place bets, gets filled to the brim with millionaires and celebrities and hundreds of thousands of people, including out-of-town visitors. No other race boasts the same attendance or draw for tourists.

And the city makes the trip worthwhile with the events during the Derby Festival like the half marathon,  the hot air balloons, the parade…I could go on. It’s beautiful, it’s exciting, and people will pay almost anything to be here. (The Brown Hotel is asking $4,365 per night for a three night minimum stay. Cha ching.)

Your marketing campaign should have that same recognizable quality to it, the way that beautiful spring hats and mint juleps scream Kentucky Derby.

3. It’s Repeatable

It’s every year! And we love it! We look forward to it. A solid marketing campaign can have success becoming a yearly, repeatable model. And guess what? That makes it easier to implement and easier to measure and improve. I’m pretty sure Louisville didn’t explode with fanfare in 1875 with 10,000 spectators, but its popularity grew quickly, especially once Derby horses started participating in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes (can you say cross-promotion?).

If it’s memorable and unique, your customers will look forward to your campaign. And remember, the Derby is certainly an event worth the excitement, because good marketing starts with a worthy product or service.

Leah Weisman is an Account Manager with Strategexe. Her day-to-day involves interfacing with clients, creating marketing strategies, blogging and updating social media.

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