Sunday was the first day of the new Hong Kong horse racing season and where, at the end of play, attendance was closing in on 66,000 and turnover was HK$1.034 billion, the highest first day figures in twenty years.

HONG KONG RACING FANS ARE MCLOVIN' IT 1

Recession? What recession? Crisis? What Crisis? It’s all about making that pilgrimage to either the race course at Shatin or the track at Happy Valley and understanding what makes this sport tick and rock in Hong Kong like no other racing jurisdiction and why the Hong Kong Jockey Club is in a class of its own and the world leader.

As for the opening day’s facts and figures, all that was missing were the Beatles singing how it was twenty years ago today and Sgt Pepper taught the band to play and introduced racing fans to the one and only Billy Shears.

Being a music man and music fan, a racing man and racing fan and, suddenly, being hit by the reality that money CAN buy you love, these phenomenal numbers posted by the Hong Kong Jockey Club validate what I have been saying since with EMI: There are racing clubs and there is the HKJC.

They have the hardware, the audience, the venues, the money and can become great partners. But for any industry or anyone to find a partner that lasts, there must be give and take.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  1

Like love and marriage, everything must go together like a horse and carriage where everyone chips in towards the whole and not expect a Sugar Daddy to come along and keep you in the style you’re not accustomed to.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  2

There are names for people like this no matter how well one might dress. Class cannot be taught or bought.

As for working with the HKJC, it’s all about genuine partnerships as the buck and bangs for bucks stop with Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the German CEO who can spot a con or something that doesn’t make business sense at 2400 paces plus understands the intricacies of doing business in China and knows very well that many wannabe partners see the Club as some bank where withdrawals are easy. Nein.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  3

This has resulted in the Greed Factor raring its ugly head and, over the years, several pilot errors making false landings without understanding racing in Hong Kong as part of the bigger world of entertainment and the HKJC as a brand- an international brand.

Being an advisor to the Club on its creative product, marketing, strategy and looking at new business streams, I have often winced sitting in on various presentations- social media companies, ad agencies, music companies, promoters etc- most trying to bluff their way with “quaint” ideas of what they think horse racing was- in the Eighties.

PLEASURE GAINS AND BANGING GONGS‏ 1

The lack of homework not done was appalling with no knowledge of the basics like the Club’s primary consumer bases, the difference between the consumers attending the racetracks at Happy Valley and Shatin and how the Happy Wednesday brand helps bring in at least 14,000 people to the track on a Wednesday evening- a VERY International and younger group of consumers, largely female, very aspirational locals who see the races as the most fun they can have with their clothes on and an evening that continues after the races are over.

For some reason- and this reason has evolved and been enhanced to what it was three years ago- a Happy Wednesday Night attracts, sure, local, expats plus a number of tourists, mainly from Scandinavia and Europe and all using the races as a launching pad to the night ahead.

WHY THE HKJC CAN INSPIRE HONG KONG 1

Its nothing sleazy- financially independent and savvy women tired of the Club scene, the pretentiousness of dragon-i and happy to be in a hassle-free open air environment, be within touching distance of the horses and riders and part of a weekly Internationally “Asianalized” carnival.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  4

This is what those associated with music and entertainment in all its many forms are completely missing out on and with very little understanding of having a business partner with so much to offer- like The HKJC Charities which give so much to the people of Hong Kong.

WHY THE HKJC CAN INSPIRE HONG KONG 10

As mentioned, like any partnership, there must be give and take instead of doing a separate set of maths. Often, these never add up.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  5

Forget about daft ideas like U2 concerts at the races and one-shot shake your money-makers. Those pie-in-the-sky ideas have been presented and crashed and burnt through too much bullshit and not enough truth and substance.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  6

If a music company, forget about trying to peddle “breaking acts” or whoever might be “free” to perform. The Club has the means to do this themselves.

Think outside of the box, experience the racing, understand the innovations created and being created, realize that the leading jockeys are treated like Rock stars, know who the HKJC’s current list of sponsors are- Longines, Sa Sa, BMW, Audermars Piguet etc, know who are savvy International racing women like Gai Waterhouse, Francesca Cumani, below, and Jo McKinnon, see what’s missing with sponsorship deals, andwhat can be value-added and look at a long-termwin-win partnership.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  7

Turnover for last season was $63 billion of which the Government received a cool $8.3 billion in taxes from the Club in return for its gambling license.

Which worldwide music company, for example, has this kind of money and pull?

But don’t let these numbers blindside anyone. It comes back to relevance.

At venues like The Beer Garden and Adrenaline at Happy Valley Racecourse, the Club has played host- paying hosts and not any of that perform for free for “the promotion” bollocks- to Hong Kong-based acts like Tess Collins, Nicole Russo, Gigi Martienette, Eugene Pao, Jun Kung, The Weathering, Gatling Revival, Killer Soap, Canto-Pop Rocksters like Dear Jane and Mr plus the very talented singer-songwriter from Wales named Ben Semmens.

It has also paid- it’s that word again- for Ben, Dear Jane and Aarif Rumjahn or whatever his Chinese name is record original theme songs for the Club with accompanying videos and a marketing budget.

Why “release” a product no one hears? For promotion? With zero budget? Puhleeeze. Pull the other one.

At a time when artists have a shortage of venues and are conned to perform and give their art away for free, it’s ironic that it’s taken the Hong Kong Jockey Club to show those supposedly “saving the music” how to do this.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  8

And now what? How long is a ballof string? A partnership with a major music company? Why not? It’s own independent music label? Perhaps?

Something breakthrough at the Asian Racing Conference in May?

As long as its relevant to Hong Kong and not lazy music marketing like a performanceby some “crossover” artist and other cliches that have been around for way too long and part of the old school arsenal belonging to promoters and music.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  9

It a horse racing powerhouse like the HKJC can push the creative envelope that includes music better than many paid big bucks to do this job, well, it speaks volumes.

THE HONG KONG JOCKEY CLUB AND MUSIC MARKETING  10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *