Marketing WEG: Dressage in the Hood

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The World Equestrian Games is in a class of its own, and is being marketed in a way that we may not understand. For once, you and I are not the target audience. There's a bigger World out there than the horse world, and the Games needs to attract that World.

Think about it: If you walk around the Calgary Stampede, you won't see many cowboys in the crowd. Go to the Kentucky Derby and you'll find people who have never been to a horse race. When the Tall Ships come to Boston, it's the landlubbers from inland who flock to the docks to gawk at the masts and the sailors. Sure, the afficionados are there as well, but the crowd is wide-eyed with wonder.

In order to survive, thrive and prosper, a sporting event has to be, more than anything, a public spectacle on a scale that Average Americans (and Germans and Swedes and New Zealanders and Brazilians) can comprehend and feel compelled to experience. It's that "once in a lifetime" trip into the horse world. Those are the people who have to come to make this event a success.

Maybe we should take a closer look at British rapper-turned-comedian Doc Brown's video. Think about its premise: Looking at horses through different eyes and liking what you see may seem comical to you and me but it might make perfect sense to someone who is marketing the Games against college and pro football games and the Major League Baseball playoffs before the World Series later in October. Determining that the MLB playoffs are not in a nearby city like Cincinnati in early October might be critical for the success of the Games and all equestrian sports.