Beyond the friendly confines of Louisville, Kentucky - most will only associate with Churchill Downs with one thing and one thing only. And that’s fair - horse-racing is as niche a sport as curling. But back here in “The 502”, Churchill Downs operates most of the year and the account review's assignment was to make their “Downs After Dark” nightlife events “a happening” and not just “the horse track in the bad neighborhood with a bad dj and a Night Ranger cover band."


There were challenges, as any advertising RFP is wont to have. First was the all-too-familiar BrandAid "a-ha!" moment that's been all the rage: MARKET TO MILLENNIALS. Wonderful in theory, but sometimes problematic in execution if your product doesn't match the promise. Lowly is the catheter salesman, wondering why his Instagram #StickItInYourPeePee campaign failed to take root with 27-year-olds. Second - coming up with creative that could resonate with the younger crowd that they’d actually find the temerity to do. Historically, anything even remotely smacking of creativity, ingenuity or approachability had met a clay pigeon’s demise.


In the middle of this catch 22 is liberation. You want to see creative? Alright. You got it. Augmented reality-festooned print, digital in-event messaging and flash specials. A sizzle reel that smokes. Authenticity. Using real event footage and some choice locally-shot timelapse with a shock-and-roll approach that actually makes the event look… fun? We leveled both both barrels and pulled the trigger, over and over.



The augmented-reality print was truly a first-of-its-kind idea. Traditionally requiring the use of a proprietary app - we had devised a way through javascript and pixel-recognition to make it work right from a browser. This would remove that all-too-inconvenient step between "wow, cool" and "I'm not downloading an app to see a freakin' commercial" - and would have our 3-page spread ad and flyers truly come to life.




The app itself was not a traditional app, but a mobile site that not only incentivized with discount tickets and Uber gift codes, but conversed freely with the users social media accounts and geo-location, letting them find friends on-premise, get flash deals and send virtual drink tickets (or... You-leps).



Making music a big push of our pre-event promotion, we realized there was no one-size-fits-all for their variegated demographics and opted instead to create target-marketed "anthems" for each. So, in addition to the urban/millennial dubstep anthem above, we broke out a glitterpop and country-rock version.




Did this win the pitch? Nope. But we knew heading in as the incumbent, we didn't have a shot without swinging for the fences. And to carry on with tired baseball analogies, the umpire was biased and ruled it foul territory. At least I think that's a correct baseball analogy. Regardless, it was foot-and-fashion forward for the brand, and any chance I can get to create original music and edit video, I'm jumping in and playing to win.