Get Your Preak On Campaign Gets Hearts Racing

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Ad campaign developed for Maryland Jockey Club sparks interest in Preakness.

it's simply an invitation to join the party. 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.

The Get Your Preak On media campaign developed by Elevation, a Washington DC advertising agency, for the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) has prompted some spirited debate since its launch more than 8 weeks ago.

Maryland racing has suffered scrutiny over the past several years, especially since the MJC instituted changes to its “bring your own beverage” policy at the Preakness event. The Get Your Preak On campaign was designed to recapture the enthusiasm that has surrounded the Preakness Stakes for 135 years and counter fears that policy changes would dampen the party atmosphere.

“The challenge was to develop a campaign that had the power to bring the fun back to the Preakness brand and in particular, to reinvigorate the 2010 InfieldFest,” explained Jim Learned, Elevation’s president and managing director. Strategically, Learned said, the campaign was born of the notion that the InfieldFest, even with its policy changes, is still an unforgettable experience. The campaign targets a younger demographic; a crowd, that in many cases, is as much or more interested in the bands, activities and festival atmosphere than in the races themselves.

“When we encourage people to Get Their Preak On,” explained Mike Martin, Elevation’s creative director, “it's simply an invitation to join the party. 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,” Martin said.

“The Get Your Preak On campaign was just the shot of adrenaline we were looking for,” said Tom Chukas, president of the MJC. “It’s 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.”

For the Get Your Preak On campaign, Elevation used an integrated mix of traditional and non-traditional media, as well as grassroots efforts to foster word-of-mouth advertising and to leverage a limited budget. One example included hiring buglers and an actor posing as a jockey to burst into local Baltimore bars. As they did, they announced their arrival with the “Call to the Post” bugle call, and then read a humorous invitation to the 2010 Preakness InfieldFest, aptly named the “Call to Party.” Budweiser also co-sponsored in-bar promotions with printed coasters, posters and bathroom mirror decals inviting patrons to Get Their Preak On. Social networking and interactive elements further encouraged race fans to create their own Get Your Preak On posters using a web application available on the website.

Even better than the buzz now surrounding the campaign are the concrete results it has been generating. Ticket sales and inquiries are up as much as 25% compared to previous years and visits to the website are exceeding 32,000 hits per week.

“Ultimately, that’s the measure of any campaign’s success,” Learned said. “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.

For images and samples of the creative materials developed, go to:

Elevation, Ltd. is a unique full service advertising agency based in Washington D.C., with satellite offices in NYC. Elevation opened its doors in 2002 and has earned international acclaim for its work on behalf of a distinctive blend of clients in consumer, social, political, and government arenas.


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Jim Learned
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