Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stallion Advertising: Then and Now

Anyone who picks up a thoroughbred trade publication is affected by (and likely aware of) the power of advertising. For media producers, advertising drives revenue and is largely responsible for the survival of a publication. For consumers, advertising influences learning and decision making, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Advertising in thoroughbred trade publications is dominated by stallion ads. For stud farms, it is no longer enough to just advertise stallions; Many farms today put considerable time, effort and resources into producing the most creative and eye-catching ads. Just as much time is put into devising deals to attract mare owners, such as foal shares, boarding deals, and early payment discounts, which are largely pushed through the ads.

While much has changed in the form of advertising, a lot has also remained the same. Below is a stallion ad from 1817 that I photographed at the Kentucky Horse Park museum.

This ad for leading 19th century racehorse and sire Sir Archie displays a creative illustration of the stallion underscored by details such as his location, stud fee and payment terms (including an early payment discount), mare boarding rates, and the stallions credentials (“Sir Archie’s blood, great size...Performance on the Turf, and celebrity as a Foal getter, are sufficient recommendations”).

While most payment details wouldn’t be included in today’s stallion ads, much of this information is still there. Below is an ad from Three Chimneys in Kentucky. Three Chimneys, which has stood Kentucky Derby winners Smarty Jones, Big Brown, Silver Charm, and Seattle Slew as well as leading sires Dynaformer and Rahy, is well-known for its creative advertising and social media presence. When Big Brown’s first foals arrived in January 2010, Three Chimneys used the creative slogan “the Brownies are out of the oven” to promote their young stallion. This ad outlines the stud fee and general payment terms. Photos of the first foals are used to attract breeders.

While we can see that advancements in media and technology have allowed for remodelling of stallion ads, it is also apparent that, like most other aspects of the thoroughbred industry, tradition still holds true with stallion advertising.

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