New NTRA Ads: 'Who Do You Like Today?'

The latest National Thoroughbred Racing Association advertising campaign will draw upon the basics that make up a fun outing at the racetrack--picking horses and socializing--in an attempt to invite newcomers to the sport.

The campaign, created by Conover Tuttle Pace of Massachusetts, features the tag line, "Who Do You Like Today?" Celebrities, trainers, jockeys, and racing fans were asked that question and give their responses. There are five television spots that can be customized for local markets.

Chip Tuttle, a partner in Conover Tuttle Pace and the former communications director for the NTRA under former commissioner Tim Smith, said the campaign is about "celebration and invitation." He said the concept is "more about being a horseplayer than horse racing."

Among the celebrities in the ads are Matthew Fox, who stars in the popular television program Lost; performer Kid Rock, a regular at the Kentucky Derby; and University of Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith. The ads, shot at tracks such as Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Del Mar, and Saratoga, will be available for use in 2006.

The NTRA said more than $5 million in media value will be put behind the campaign, including national and regional NTRA and member racetrack buys.

"It's really an ongoing process," said Grant Pace, of Conover Tuttle Pace. "It's up to you to let us know if somebody is coming to your track (who could be included in the ads)."

Tuttle and Pace said they are looking at using the concept for other mediums, including headers for racing entries in sports pages, or logos on java jackets and drink coasters.

"The beauty of this campaign is really two-fold," Tuttle said. "We really do need to create a sense of community and belonging for our customers. We hope that's what the ad campaign communicates."

The NTRA has used the tagline "Go Baby Go" since its inception in 1998. Tuttle said the slogan "is being given a freshening, not being retired."

Breeders' Cup president and NTRA commissioner D.G. Van Clief Jr. said the new ads would be part of a "fully integrated marketing campaign" in 2006.