Responses by Christa Marrillia, chief marketing officer, Keeneland and Leslie Miller, senior account planner, Cornett
Background: The one-minute thirty eight-second spot “The Unseen Side of Horse Racing” is an anthem to the Thoroughbred industry and the hard work of the people who devote their lives to make it possible. Our target audience was the people who make Keeneland’s heart beat—the horsemen, the dedicated staff, the legacy families and the local community who have made Keeneland a home away from home.
Reasoning: Much of the Thoroughbred industry advertising focuses on the glory and glamour—perfectly manicured pastures, gleaming horses and big wins. Our strategy was to show that Keeneland understands the hard work behind those end results. We did that by recognizing the people at the heart of this industry. We also wanted something visually simple that would enable the voiceover to carry the spot.
Challenges: Choosing photos. We had specific scenes we wanted for each line, and a certain look that each photo needed to fit into. Going through hundreds of photos to find ones that suited the feel of the spot—gritty and authentic, but still beautifully composed—was a real challenge.
Favorite details: Having industry icon and former Keeneland president Ted Bassett as the voice of the spot. Not only does his voice suit the spot, but his place in the industry and as a part of Keeneland’s history adds another level of meaning and authenticity that no one else could have provided. We also added subtle visual effects to some of the photos to create an experience that encourages repeat viewing.
Time constraints: Wanting to get the spot out during a busy race season forced us to simplify our concept, and find something that we could execute well and quickly. Since we couldn’t go out and get winter photos in the middle of summer, those time constraints led us to use existing photos. This gave the spot a variety of perspectives and underscored the value Keeneland places on the people behind the industry.
Anything new: We gained a whole new appreciation for how deep and connected the horse community is. We were aiming to make something that spoke to the Thoroughbred industry, but judging by the reception it’s gotten, we created something that resonated with the larger horse industry around the world.