Merkley Spends A Day At The Races

Agency to Break Ads to Dispel Myths About the Sport of Kings
NEW YORK – Merkley Newman Harty on Wednesday will break the inaugural ad campaign for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association that is intended to overcome the notion that horse racing lacks class.
“It’s a misconception that horse racing fans are low class and downscale,” said Steve Bowen, director of business development at Merkley here. “In fact, the six million or so people who go to the racetrack are an eclectic bunch.” Bowen cited research which shows that racing fans are more likely to travel abroad or buy stock than the average consumer.
Three TV commercials, in addition to print and radio ads, frame a day at the track as a multifaceted social experience that allows people to “let their hair down.”
The TV spots feature actress Lori Petty, who is meant to embody the fun of the racetrack. Petty has appeared in such feature films as A League of Their Own and starred in Tank Girl.
In one 30-second spot, shots of an unfolding race are intercut with images of Petty whooping it up in the crowd. The spot ends with her line, “Inhibitions? Leave ’em in the car.”
Another ad shows the sassy Petty prancing trackside, explaining how a day at the track transforms a person into a “yelling, screaming, jumping, partying, thrill seeking [fan].” The tagline is: “Go baby go.”
Explained Bowen: “We wanted to avoid the Baywatch syndrome. Lori is attractive but real. She has the energy associated with the racetrack.”
The NTRA, a group of horse owners, racetracks, breeders and off-track betting organizations, aims to achieve appeal similar to leagues like the National Basketball Association.
Merkley won the $12-20 million NTRA account last October, defeating BBDO South, Atlanta; The Richards Group, Dallas; and D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Los Angeles.