I completely agree that the on-air behaviour last Friday by Alan Jones and subsequently on Monday and Tuesday this week was abhorrent – especially by a so-called pillar of the community. I applaud Louise Herron for standing her ground during the interview.
What I found more interesting however, was that Racing NSW thought that projecting the barrier draw onto the sails of The Opera House on a Tuesday evening in the middle of school holidays was in any way the best way to market The Everest. Unless you’re a complete racing tragic, the barrier draw is about the most boring event imaginable – akin to the bingo numbers being drawn at your local RSL Club.
Simon Darcy posted a comment on a LinkedIn story this morning stating that brand ‘Racing’ has been damaged by this whole episode and I think he’s right. Although anyone under the age of thirty will likely have little to no clue as to what all the fuss was about – and that’s the bigger issue at hand for the racing industry as a whole.
The only reason racing exists is for wagering. If betting on racing was banned, racing would die almost overnight. The greyhound racing issues of 2016 were near-fatal proof of that.
Wagering has for many years been navigating some very choppy waters from an operational and marketing perspective. Regulatory issues have constrained the amount of free-to-air broadcast minutes available to wagering providers – but not before the boundaries of appropriateness were pushed to breaking point by Tom Waterhouse.
On the marketing front, the rise and rise of consumer technology has obliterated the traditional sales channels such as stand alone wagering venues and call centres. TAB no longer promotes their 133 TAB call centre number on any advertising.
Which brings me back to the Opera House last night. Racing NSW talked long and hard all week about “…showcasing Sydney with an iconic backdrop such as The Opera House.” Even if the protests hadn’t gone ahead last night, the so-called showcasing would have been to a few thousand rusted-on racing fans watching Sky Racing at home, and a few thousand more tourists taking in the sights of Circular Quay on a Tuesday evening. The marketing investment by Racing NSW in newspapers and online should see a far higher ROI and may get a few more people rolling through the gates on Saturday or having a bet online.
The whole episode is a great case of ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’.