Last night, the unbeaten Thoroughbred racehorse Zenyatta was profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes show. Asking the question ‘Is Zenyatta The Best Racehorse Ever?’ the show followed the mare for a week, covering her every move from grooming time to morning works to meeting with her fans..
But one of the ‘omg moments’ of the segment brought some of the best publicity you can get: An unpaid product placement for the Guinness brand of beer, which Zenyatta gets occasionally as a treat from her trainer John Shirreffs. And, apparently, no other beer will do, since it’s the only one she’ll drink!
This is the kind of third-party recommendation that PR folks dream about. Zenyatta is at the zenith of her career, unbeaten in 19 races and with her 20th, and final, being the prestigious Breeder’s Cup Classic that she won last year, the eyes of the equestrian and sports worlds are upon her.
Since win or lose she’ll retire after the race, she’s a sentimental favorite, but she also has a real shot to win and take home a $3 million paycheck despite being six years old and the oldest horse in the field. There were also a record-setting 184 entries in the Breeder’s Cup races, which will be run this year at Churchill Downs, home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby.
Combine all that with the cachet of being in an excellent segment on 60 Minutes (that you can watch here if you didn’t see it when it aired), and with that type of unsolicited endorsement and primetime publicity – it’s like capturing lightning in a (beer) bottle.
I wonder if the Guinness folks will jump on this? Hmmmm…she could be the fastest, biggest, hairiest female to ever be featured in a beer commercial.
Another touching equestrian moment occurred in the same 60 Minutes show; loveable curmudgeon Andy Rooney talked about seeing the Secretariat movie in his show-closing segment. Apparently he’s visited Saratoga annually since he was a youngster, seeing some of the greatest racehorses of the 20th century such as Man o’ War, Citation, Whirlaway, and War Admiral. And yes, Secretariat.
You can watch Mr. Rooney’s clip here, or read the transcript. I thought it was amazing that he’s seen so many of the racing greats in his lifetime. While he’s not a big fan and only goes to the track occasionally, he points out that a movie isn’t a substitute for actually being there…but that the Secretariat movie comes close.
I would agree – if you haven’t yet seen it on the big screen, catch it while you can. The action sequences are spectacular, Diane Lane does a fine job in the role of Penny Chenery Tweedy, and while there are some glaring continuity errors that a horse person will catch, it’s a movie that kept me engaged and that I felt was well worth paying premium to see it at the theater.