My intent when I started this blog was to celebrate the great things about racing. The kind of things I would’ve liked to see celebrated in our mainstream media.
Unfortunately, I had a bit of spare time on my hands one day and decided to peruse the Racing Board’s annual reports. There I saw the extent of the profligate spending which has seen the industry bogged in the mire as the six-figure salary club expands.
Particularly galling is the fact that some of those pulling in the big bucks are actually charged with getting those great racing stories out to the general media. Galling, because they regularly fail to deliver.
Sure, we might get some media interest when it comes to our high days and holidays. Those race days when even the general media are aware there is a meeting on – thanks to the money the respective clubs have thrown into promoting the event.
These major events are the low-hanging fruit though – the likes of the NZ Derby is always going to get some mainstream media acknowledgement, the Wairoa Cup maybe not so much. In rugby terms, the All Blacks doing anything is going to get media in a frenzy when compared with say, a local club rugby final. But throw a good media hook into that club rugby match – duelling families; a front row made up of triplet brothers; fundraising for a local stalwart needing urgent medical assistance and things might change.
Where we go wrong with the six-figure numpties is that none of them appear to have a clue about what makes a good story and even less of a clue about the myriad of great stories under their noses.
A recent visit to the races uncovered one of the big earners actually on track and flitting around ever-so-importantly. As befitting one of such stature there was also a cheer-leader who loudly (well, it had to be loudly as we managed to hear the full exchange half-way across the room!) informed those at the table who had been earlier blessed by the presence of the important one, that this person was indeed VERY important. They had a VERY big job, but had also previously had a VERY big, important job.
The bit which nearly made me choke on my drink was the piece that followed. The cheer-leader then proclaimed – I am assuming in response to a question, but the questioner was not shrieking so it was difficult to tell – that the very important person from the Racing Board absolutely did NOT bet.
So, the job of the very important person is to spread the news about the wonders of the Racing Board, but god forbid they actually get down and dirty and maybe put two over three on Goodtime Sugar!
What happened to “Now You’re In the Game” the latest TAB marketing catch-cry?
All this brings me, rather convolutedly, to the fact I have been re-reading sections of the TAB’s 50th anniversary vanity project Two over Three on Goodtime Sugar (did you see what I did there?!).
Interestingly, back in the very bad old days, when TABs hid down alleyways and no loitering was permitted, “advertising could only relate to racing itself, not to betting.”
This was thanks to the 1949 Gaming Amendment Act which meant the TAB was not to “induce” anyone to have a bet. Even when this was overturned by the Racing Act (1971) the TAB continued to keep a low profile.
What did appear to work back in the mid-1980s was “the principal theme in all advertising was that racing was fun; an entertainment for the family and a great day out. It was focused more on racing per se than the TAB.”
We’ve now come full circle with the TAB’s “Now you’re in the Game” advertising all about the betting.
It obviously hasn’t been captivating enough to ensure their own staff feel compelled to have the odd flutter!