Ontario Racing (slowly) welcomes patrons back

Who: Ontario Racing and the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation, with Forsman & Bodenfors for strategy and creative; Scouts Honour for production; Nimiopere, Alter Ego Post, The Vanity & TA2 Sound & Music for post-production; media by MediaCom.

What: “Welcome to the Track,” a campaign aimed at getting people back to the province’s 15 racetracks (more than any jurisdiction in North America) post-pandemic.

When & Where: The campaign launched on May 9, anchored by a 30-second TV spot/online video, supported by radio and social.

Why: The campaign wants to attract people back to the track by presenting horse racing as a “unique and exhilarating” entertainment option. It’s also about presenting the many sides of the activity, whether it’s enjoying a low-key afternoon or event inside the dining room, or standing at the rail and cheering on a horse you’ve wagered on.

How: The 60-second anchor spot opens on a tight shot of horses thundering down a track before it shifts to an ultra slow-motion perspective that shows horses, riders, and excited fans in the stands. “Nothing comes close to this,” says the voiceover. “Elegant avatars of speed, creating a thunderous drum line. Sprinting towards glory.” The spot concludes with the reminder that all of this excitement is “closer than you think.”

A series of radio ads, “Coffee Run,” “Afternoon Errands,” and “Dinner Duty,” feature an announcer delivering play-by-play of everyday activities as if they were a horse race. “You don’t see a single parking spot… you come out of the gate slowly, looking for anything at all,” says Afternoon Errands. “Down the stretch you spot glimmering hope, but as you come down the stretch you see glimmering hope is actually tiny compact car.”

And we quote: “We were really struck by the fact that as an entertainment option, horse racing is completely unique, and delivers such an immersive experience in a single venue. The amazing views from the stands, the competition, wagering and the ability to get up close to the horses and jockeys.” — Glen D’Souza, executive creative director, Forsman & Bodenfors

Chris Powell