So, it’s been almost two months since the Mighty Kegasus advertising campaign began and it’s now almost time to fully assess the success of the marketing of the 2011 Preakness. So far, so good in the only measurement that really matters — sales are up 21% for Saturday infield tickets. I said it on Day One and no matter the result of selling a few thousand extra tickets and mugs of Budweiser this week, my strong opinion has only intensified since I began seeing the billboards all over town – this is the dumbest, most short-sighted and irresponsible advertising campaign since Winston told America it “tastes good, like a suicide should.”
Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Shame on Tom Chuckas. Shame on the marketing idiots in Washington, D.C. who spit this out and shame on anyone who thinks this somehow will add prestige to an event and a weekend in Baltimore that’s in desperate need of not just short-term-revenue gain and a little “shot in the arm” for attendance but a real transplant for its reputation and its future as a viable “major sporting event” and not just a weekend drunkfest with frat boys and the girls who love them.
As much as I lean on the Orioles for their indiscretions and lack of a focus on integrity – mainly issues of transparency, honesty, accountability, chronic losing, bullying, faux civic and community interest all while profiteering and buying off of the local “real media”– even the Orioles aren’t this dumb.
But as desperate as the fan base is in Baltimore to see them win, Peter Angelos is far from desperate on the marketing side because he’s printing money downtown off the television contract. The Maryland Jockey Club doesn’t have a public subsidy of $100 million each year so this is the kind of desperation you’d be getting from the baseball team if they REALLY needed to fill those bleachers.
The Orioles slogan has been for almost 15 years – “Come To Birdland” not “Come Downtown and Get S**tfaced and Make a Fool of Yourself.” But, of course, the Orioles FANS are desperate to see wins but the Orioles are NOT desperate for revenue, profit or a financial shot in the arm. It’s only made to look that way when they upcharge (or is it scalp?) you on Opening Day and charge you a “walk up fee” to take advantage of a stadium our tax dollars just paid $10 million more to replace the perfectly unused seats, so much like Angelos himself can earn a retirement home on the blue shores of Florida.
And where the Orioles have employed various forms of “alcohol police” in the bleachers at Camden Yards who literally walk seat-to-seat and card people to make sure they’re 21 (NO, I’m NOT making this up!) this Saturday the Preakness folks are rolling out the world’s largest frat party and have moved toward marketing it as such.
This is what you want the Preakness to be?
The ogre of Baltimore, on a horse, completely equipped to be a “legendary” a**hole on the third Saturday of May – and now with unprecedented pre-approval and encouragement because the billboards all over town are selling the event as such.
Who in the world thought this was a good idea for this community, the brand of the Preakness or the long-term viability of horse racing? It’s the day of the year that is supposed to matter and the focus isn’t on the race but more on how big the party in the infield will be and whether or not bare-chested women will parading on the shoulders of men for tips.
There is no more focus on the growth of the industry on the third Saturday of May. There is no more talk about whether the race will even be in Baltimore in five years. Instead, the community is hearing: “Come be legendary!”
Does Under Armour really want a million-dollar