The Kentucky Equine Education Project has rolled out its statewide advertising campaign geared at informing people about the horse industry."Our campaign is geared to get folks to understand that horses are an industry in our state, and that industry is being threatened," said Claria Horn Shadwick, KEEP's executive director. KEEP was created to promote the horse industry and to "discuss its importance to Kentucky's economy."According to KEEP, "conservative estimates" put the Kentucky horse industry's economic impact at $4 billion, with tens of thousands of jobs resulting. "But currently, other states are competing for Kentucky's horse economy with favorable taxation, breeder incentives, and racing incentives," KEEP said in announcing the ad campaign."Other states see the economic value of cultivating a horse industry because where the horses go, so go jobs and economic opportunities. States like New York, Florida, and even West Virginia, have passed legislation and developed economic incentives that are making their states better places to do business for horse owners," said Shadwick. Both television and radio spots will begin airing this week on stations throughout the state. "Our theme has been 'Horses Work for Kentucky' and they do," said Shadwick. "It's time that people begin to understand that this is an industry we must protect."In one KEEP ad, the narrator compares the horse industry with some of Kentucky's other major industries -- bourbon, cars and trucks, health care, and technology – posing the question "which industry pumps in $4 billion and ten of thousands of jobs into Kentucky's economy?" Another ad in the campaign focuses on the competition from other states for Kentucky's equine economy.
According to the organization, KEEP is not just relying on paid media to carry its message, noting that since its creation in May 2004, it has developed a grassroots network from its membership. KEEP's goal is to have an assigned team leader in each county of the state, according to the organization, and to date, more than 90 counties have a representative in place to help grow its membership and organize horse industry folks around the state. Membership currently totals 4,963. "Through our grassroots efforts we are trying to identify the various people who have a vested interest in the equine industry thriving in our state. It is estimated that there are about 200,000 horses in Kentucky. Each of these horses requires goods and services from farriers to veterinarians to equipment dealers. One horse helps create jobs, so just think what 200,000 horses do for our economy each year," said Shadwick. "Around the globe we are known as the 'Horse Capital of the World.' KEEP's mission is to protect this and grow the equine industry."