Friday 23 February 2018

Marketing people: Barbara White

Marketing and PR manager, Horse Racing Ireland

Barbara White
Barbara White Business

Thoroughbred racing authority Horse Racing Ireland is tasked with the governance, development and promotion of the industry. Heading up its marketing function is Barbara White, who previously worked as account director with a number of advertising agencies.

From a marketing perspective, how do you “manage” all the different stakeholders in Irish horse racing?

Fortunately, the entire industry is very collaborative and works together to profile and market the sport.

A good example of this is last week’s Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards. Godolphin is the global thoroughbred breeding and horseracing team founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It is the principal sponsor of the Irish Stud and Stable Staff Awards in association with The Irish Stable Staff Association and The Racing Post. HRI also co-sponsors the event and project manages it. Sheikh Mohammed, who owns Kildangan Stud in Co Kildare is a significant employer.

What marketing challenges do you have and how do you tackle them?

Ireland hosts an impressively varied array of festivals. Competing in this cluttered market, to ensure the race-meetings and festivals succeed is a key marketing challenge. However, our market research and data intelligence help us to understand our racegoers’ demographics and media consumption habits and develop targeted campaigns.

Like other outdoor events, weather also has an impact on attendances and the race-day experience for customers. In 2014, HRI introduced a €100m capital development scheme to help racecourses significantly improve their facilities.

What marketing initiatives are currently under way?

Our winter racing campaign has just finished and we are implementing the brand marketing and communications plans for the summer racing period that includes all the summer racing festivals.

Another key event is Longines Irish Champions Weekend — established in 2014 — which has quickly become the showcase of the Irish Flat

racing season. It takes place at Leopardstown on Saturday, September 9 and The Curragh on Sunday September 10. For so many years, Ireland has been a dominant force on the world’s racing stage,

punching well above its weight in terms of breeding and racing success. It was fitting we host a global event on Irish soil. We have worked with Leopardstown, The Curragh, Longines and other key partners to brand and develop Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

The rural heartland is extremely important for us as this demographic boasts some of racing’s most dedicated fans. HRI has a significant presence at the National Ploughing Championship which is highly-interactive and includes daily interviews with top jockeys and trainers and free racing exhibitions for children.

HRI has recently established an ‘ownership department’ to broaden the ownership base and

to assist Irish trainers in attracting new and returning owners to enjoy the thrills of racehorse ownership.

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