Horse Racing in Advertising: Nice…or Vice?
While there is little to no national advertising for Thoroughbred racing these days, a couple of companies have recently incorporated horses or horse racing into their television commercials.
The first that was brought to my attention recently was Rosland Capital, the precious metals retailer that in the past used G. Gordon Liddy to pitch its product on cable channels. Liddy, of course, was the operative of the Plumbers group responsible for the 1972 Watergate break-in that led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon.
The new Rosland Capital pitchman is actor William Devane, who is also connected to a U.S. president, John F. Kennedy. Devane portrayed Kennedy in the made-for-television movie Missiles of October, one of his better-known roles.
A polo player and horse enthusiast, Devane is shown in the Rosland ad standing in the crowd on a racetrack apron while a race is being run in the background. He cautions viewers “this is not the way” to invest your retirement funds, “this is….gold and silver.”
Of course, no one has ever suggested that anyone should take their retirement money (or their rent money, for that matter) and play the horses. Still, the message seems to be that only a foolish risk-taker would consider gambling at the races.
“When it comes to my retirement, excitement like this I don't need,” Devane says.
Here is the Rosland Capital ad.
The other commercial, for the luxury automobile Acura, is far more creative and positive.
Filmed over three days at Barretts Sales and Racing in Southern California, the futuristic ad features a field of riderless, supercharged mechanical horses breaking from the starting gate and battling down the length of the stretch of a Meydan-like racetrack packed with upscale fans.
The mechanical horses are fighting and clawing at each other, when suddenly a real horse comes charging from behind, passing them all and then morphing into a sleek Acura.
The tagline of this visually stunning ad, called “Let the Race Begin,” is: Acura – performance that changes the game, a power that goes beyond the machine.
According to a press release from the Mullen creative agency that produced the ad, the racing scene was filmed at Barretts using real horses who were then converted into the metallic creatures by a post-production company.
Here is the Acura ad.
Which one do you think is more effective?