Churchill Downs taps Cramer-Krasselt for Kentucky Derby branding

NEW YORK: Churchill Downs hired Cramer-Krasselt as AOR for the Kentucky Derby event and overall branding efforts that will be led by PR.

NEW YORK: Churchill Downs hired Cramer-Krasselt as AOR for the Kentucky Derby event and overall branding efforts that will be led by PR.

The initial budget is “three-quarters PR and the brand assessment research is being PR-led,” according to Deborah Radman, SVP of Cramer-Krasselt's PR operation. The agency also offers advertising and other marketing services. “This was really neat to have PR be such a factor in the strategic decision that was made here,” she added.

The account is "a rather significant investment," said Dave Tompkins, SVP of marketing for Churchill Downs, who declined to give more details about the budget. Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) already works with local agencies in the markets around its four racetracks—Louisville, Chicago, New Orleans, and Miami— and it will continue to do so. However, "This is the first time that we're really trying to market the Derby on a national and international basis," Tompkins told PRWeek.

Tomkins said the agency will launch initiatives and events to promote the Kentucky Derby, develop a brand-building strategy, and oversee national PR and communications.

Led from its New York office, Cramer-Krasselt is currently in the research phase and will have a better direction on long-term strategy by early March, Radman added.

An informal RFP process including 20 agencies of various sizes from across the country started in October 2007, with a break while the internal team worked on the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Starting in June 2008, a more formal selection process led to the hiring of Cramer-Krasselt.

Tompkins declined to name the other agencies that participated in the RFP. He said CDI plans to work with one of the finalists with respect to the core racing business, and it will be announced shortly.

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