Spring Racing Carnival: Are Sponsors Missing a Trick?

Looking past the fashion, past the punters paradise, past the endless list of A, B, C, D and even E grade celebrities and also past that guy in the red jocks, this blog will take a closer look at the involvement of sponsors and how they leveraged partnerships across the carnival.

The Spring Racing Carnival features all the classic hallmarks of sponsorship and they all seem to be delivered down to the ground for partnering brands.


By classic hallmarks, I refer specifically to:

Naming Rights

The easiest and best way to associate your brand with an event and we see a myriad of brands staking ownership over everything from race days, to individual races, to fashion events. The Emirates Melbourne Cup, Crown Oaks Day, Myer Fashions on the Field, AAMI Victoria Derby Day, James Boag’s Premium Stakes etc. The list of inventory with naming rights attached is as long as the Flemington straight itself. 



With The Birdcage the hottest Spring ticket in town, no Australian sporting event can match the premium hospitality that the Spring Racing Carnival provides. From the high-end brands building their own oasis, through to basic on course dining options, there is a hospitality option for anyone who seeks it.


Broadcast Integration

Channel 7’s carnival coverage has been supported by its advertising partners through a mix of TVCs and broadcast integration. With so few actually allowed in the exclusive marquees, it’s a great way to generate some reach for your brand with the likes of Giaan Rooney, Rebecca Maddern, Neil Kearney and Edwina Bartholomew hosting a series of crosses from sponsor marquees and interviewing brand ambassadors.


Branding and Signage

Partnering brands own real estate all over the carnival from the finishing post, to the mounting yard, the obligatory winner’s caps and of course, on the horses themselves. No one does this better than Emirates, for my mind their red and white logo is the look and feel of the Melbourne Cup and with 4.7 million Australians associating them with the Melbourne Cup*, it seems a lot of Australia agrees.  

Anyone else notice the Emirates branding at the Melbourne Cup? 

Anyone else notice the Emirates branding at the Melbourne Cup? 

On-Course Activation

With hundreds of thousands of racegoers physically attending Caulfield or Flemington, activation presents a mass audience for partners to physically engage with. Wagering partners in particular leverage this opportunity as it presents a live conversion opportunity and with $141+ million wagered on the Emirates Melbourne Cup with Tabcorp alone, it’s a fair pie to grab a slice of.



So, with naming rights, hospitality, broadcast integration, branding and on-course activation being executed down to the ground, what other leverage opportunities present themselves for racing partners (or potential ambushers?).

There is a school of thought that sponsorship used to give you the right to brand things, now it gives you the opportunity to create branded content. Exploring that – are official partners and potential ambush marketers missing a trick when it comes to content creation?


At Bastion EBA, we categorise content into three distinct buckets; Hack, Help and Hero.

Hack Content:

Your day in, day out, short form cheap content which brands social teams keeping pumping out. It generally takes the form of memes, gifs and quick videos as can be seen by Sportbet.com.au’s social accounts, which produce plenty of examples:

(Image via Twitter)

(Image via Twitter)


Help Content:

Mid-level in quality, informative by nature and frequently found in the form of tips or top 10 lists. Help Content is often generated as a response to topics people Google, like what to wear and how to wear it, with Myer, along with other fashion and style orientated businesses, playing in this space.


What we don’t see across the Spring Racing Carnival however, is enough branded Hero Content. 

Hero Content:

High quality and longer in duration with storytelling at its heart, Hero Content is designed to draw you in with beautiful cinematography or unique vision. No surprise that it’s also the most expensive to produce, so, (unless you are Red Bull) you generally only distribute a maximum of 1 per month.

It’s the stuff you watch, remember and almost definitely share, mastered overseas by Royal Salute in this clip. 


Given Hero Content relies on storytelling at its heart, such vision is a seamless fit with the racing themes of horses, fashion, celebration and performance, with endless stories that can be told around the Spring Racing Carnival. The training regime of the jockeys, the real story of track work, the ups and downs of syndicate ownership, what it’s really like to be a brand ambassador etc.

These stories are waiting to be told and with sponsors already maximising their traditional sponsorship assets across the carnival, Hero Content provides the next opportunity for brands to maximise their spring racing returns.



(Feature Image via http://www.thenational.ae/sport/horse-racing/godolphins-wait-for-a-melbourne-cup-winner-goes-on-as-almandin-wins-in-thrilling-finish)

(Collage via http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/racing/85953659/live-melbourne-cup-2016-almandin-wins-in-a-thrilling-finishhttp://www.afr.com/business/sport/lloyd-williams-dominates-melbourne-cup-day-wins-his-5th-cup-20161030-gse568http://www.sportsrageous.com/other-sports/almandin-gallops-to-a-sensational-victory-in-melbourne-cup/54252/http://www.smh.com.au/sport/horseracing/melbourne-cup-2016-lloyd-williams-success-with-almandin-a-tribute-to-his-craft-20161101-gsfp8b.htmlhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3892310/Almandin-wins-Melbourne-Cup-tight-finish.html)