The "Get Your Preak On" media campaign developed for this year's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) has prompted debate in Maryland since its launch more than eight weeks ago.
The campaign, organized by the advertising agency Elevation for the Maryland Jockey Club, has used traditional and non-traditional media as well as grassroots efforts to foster word-of-mouth advertising.
One example included hiring buglers and actors posing as jockeys to visit local bars. After announcing their arrival with the “Call to the Post,” they proceeded to invite patrons to the Preakness InfieldFest, called the “Call to Party.” Budweiser also co-sponsored promotions with printed coasters, posters, and bathroom mirror decals in the bars inviting customers to “Get Their Preak On.”
The slogan, which has prompted controversy, is also being used on social networking sites.
“When we encourage people to Get Their Preak On, it's simply an invitation to join the party,” said Mike Martin, Elevation’s creative director. “The statement is bold, it’s irreverent, and best of all, it’s uniquely ownable by our client. No matter how you Get Your Preak On, there’s only one place you can do it.
“Our intention was to leave the campaign open to interpretation. It’s certainly no surprise that some people may find the tongue-in-cheek phrase controversial and its executions touched with innuendo. At the end of the day, the campaign means something different to everyone and if people want to read more into it, all the better."
The campaign was born of the notion that InfieldFest, even with changes to its bring-your-own beverage policy, is still an unforgettable experience. The campaign targets a younger crowd that in many cases is as much or more interested in the bands, activities, and festival atmosphere than in the races themselves.
“The Get Your Preak On campaign was just the shot of adrenaline we were looking for,” said Tom Chuckas, president of the MJC. “It has gotten people around Baltimore talking about the Preakness again. Even if people try to misconstrue the meaning behind the campaign’s creative approach, there’s no disputing it reminds everyone what an important event it is for Maryland.”
Ticket sales for the Preakness and inquiries are up as much as 25% compared to previous years, MJC officials said, and visits to GetYourPreakOn.com are exceeding 32,000 hits per week.
“Ultimately, that’s the measure of any campaign’s success,” said Jim Learned, Elevation’s president and managing director. “We like to create campaigns that get people talking, but if they don’t also inspire people to act – or in this case to buy tickets to the event--then we've missed the mark.”
The Preakness Stakes will be held May 15 at Pimlico Race Course. The campaign will run through event day.