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HORSE RACING CHALLENGES ENTERTAINMENT OFFERINGS
The horse racing industry is one that is absolutely dependent on the well-being of primary agriculture. Horses are bred, born and raised on farms, where most are trained, but only a select few become racehorses. Without a good supply of equine athletes, the horse racing industry would not exist. There are approximately 7,000 to 8,000 people employed in the racing industry in Alberta, many of whose roles are related to feed, breeding operations, and training facilities.



When looking at the agricultural racing and breeding-related activities on the community circuit (non-racetracks), the industry produced economic benefit of approximately $295 million in 2003. A study also found that each racehorse that is raised and runs in Alberta on the community circuit has an estimated annual impact of between $30,000 and $40,000 to Alberta and the community.

In June 2003, Horse Racing Alberta took a bold new step to reverse dwindling attendance numbers. After years of promoting the sporting and gaming aspects of live horse racing, industry stakeholders agreed to try a new approach. Extensive market research led to the conclusion that the best way to attract a new audience was to position horse racing as entertainment. The province-wide advertising campaign included television, radio and newspaper. The second year of the brand advertising campaign launched March 2004 and evolved to include revised television, radio, outdoor, resto-bar posters and
on-site track advertising.

Advertisements were placed where the tracks are located in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie and Millarville.

The main objective of the campaign "The Horses - There's a Horse for Everyone" was to reposition live horse racing relative to competitors in the entertainment, sports and gaming sectors within the Alberta market against 18- to 34-year-olds.

In order to both stay true to the directive of positioning horse racing as entertainment and attract the target market, an effort was made to make the creative more than just montages of race footage. For television, a conscious attempt was made to celebrate the human moments that take place at the track, while using unique horse names to narrate the scene. The playful horse names carried over to the outdoor media vehicles to lure people to the track. Paired with portrait-style shots of horses in action, the result is a clean, simple and lighthearted request to consider the track as a social destination. In addition to the television spots, seven live television shows of key stakes races were broadcast across Alberta and into parts of British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Radio was used to find a lighthearted way to position a day at the track against specific targets including movies, golfing, a girls' night out and weekend chores. Movie parody ads were designed to capture the cinema-style drama of the track and were placed in the movie listings section of the newspaper to reach people when they make their entertainment decisions.

Finally, several track collateral pieces were created to help the first-time track attendee navigate through the horse racing learning curve. Coasters, banners, posters and table cards reinforce the brand message and help communicate the simplicity of wagering and following a race.

Ipsos-ASI was contracted to measure the effectiveness of the campaign in 2003 and in 2004 at various points throughout the campaign's life.
  • Attendance increased in both Calgary and Edmonton's racetracks from 2003 to 2004. Measuring attendance from January to June 2003 compared to January to June 2004, it has gone up by 34 percent.
  • As of July 31, 2004, year-to-date, total handle is up 4.69 percent which is $4 million over the same time last year.
  • Brand results - the tag line "There's a horse for everyone" is gaining increased awareness among the Albertan population, rising from 21 percent prompted recall pre-campaign to 35 percent in May 2004.
  • Attitudes towards horse racing - Albertans' attitudes towards "horse racing is a good form of entertainment" went from 54 percent in June 2003 to 69 percent in May 2004. AM

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