Horsing around

May 5, 2016
May 5, 2016 smz-blog

Horsing around

It’s Derby Day. Let’s make that relevant to business.

I love thoroughbred horseracing. I treat the Kentucky Derby as a special holiday. Our dog-who occasionally romps the halls of SMZ-is named Derby.

How is any of this relevant to our business? Or yours?

Because it’s about tradition. SMZ is proudly 87 years young. On Saturday we’ll witness the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby. It’s the longest continually held sporting event in America. The rich traditions that today might be called “branding elements,” include the Garland of Roses for the winner, sipping icy mint juleps and the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home.” It takes time for elements like that to become traditions. What’s wonderful is how the Derby blends those timeless traditions while embracing new innovations like the world’s largest outdoor 4K TV.

Because it celebrates design. Besides the bright and extravagant hats, the Kentucky Derby poster series began as a marketing project to generate pre-race interest back in 1981. Though primarily a way to recognize local talent, some internationally renowned artists have designed the poster, including Peter Max, Julius Friedman and Michael Schwab. Add in the majesty of the Twin Spires and you have an event tailor-made for screens of every shape and size. (Link to the Official Derby Poster)

Because like a good campaign, it tells a story. Before the race we ask, “Who’s going to win, what’s the human interest story, what’s the equine story?” During the race we’re caught up in the unforgettable action against a wall of noise from 150,000 fans. And afterwards we evaluate: “what happened during the race, who didn’t run well, might we see another Triple Crown champion?” All of these questions flow across social media, work at a Derby party, and often simulate a business model.

To some the first Saturday in May is just another day. To many others it is Derby Day, a rare celebration of past, present and future.

Email me if you’re a fan and want to share race predictions. I recommend you tune in and enjoy “the most exciting two minutes in sports!”

Jamie Michelson, President/CEO



(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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