Monday Morning Quickie – You Can’t Beat This Kind Of Exposure

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..

Image courtesy

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.



Filed under Equine Industry Marketing, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Monday Morning Quickie – You Can’t Beat This Kind Of Exposure

  1. sonia

    Wonderful, thanks that was just fantastic; thanks for sharing!!

    • Glad you liked it, Sonia – I’m thrilled every time a bit of ‘horse stuff’ makes it into the mainstream media and exposes the average viewer to the horse world. So to have this kind of story on 60 Minutes, AND to have it be so well-done….icing on the cake. Enjoy your day!

  2. Wonderful article! Saw the “60 Minutes” segment yesterday and loved the fact that Zenyatta gets a Guiness. They should put her in a Guiness commercial. Look what the Clydesdales have done for Busch.

    • Even if Guinness doesn’t do anything with this, it’s great FREE publicity for them. I also just saw on Twitter (thanks, Ed DeRosa from Thoroughbred Times – @EJXD2) that the Divine Miss Z will be getting a police escort from the Louisville airport to Churchill Downs. That’s an important horse!

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  4. Zenyatta’s not the only racehorse to like Guinness, although she’s the only one with serious wattage “star power.” Eclipse Award winner Forever Together likes her Guinness, and I’m thinking Belmont Stakes winner Jazil liked his Guinness, too.

    But, seriously, that kind of publicity – I remember when the “end break” going into “Sixty Minutes” was one of the most expensive pieces of commercial time – is priceless.

    • That’s interesting, I’d not heard of a horse that liked Guinness before! Plus, part of this is about the timing – the fact that it’s this horse, less than a week before she could make some serious history.

      And excellent tidbit about the 60 Minutes ad rates! I wonder how they compared to Super Bowl rates?

  5. Okay, I’m veering OT out of horse stuff a bit here. 🙂 I worked for a CBS affiliate in the late ’70s. I don’t think “we”/CBS had the Super Bowl during that period, so I kinda can’t compare. I do remember that the two most expensive “breaks” then were the break going onto 60 Minutes and the mid-break in “The Waltons.” That was back when there was The Big 3 (ABC, NBC and CBS and HBO). No Fox, no ESPN. And I left cat food out for the T-Rex. 😉

    • Funny! I was leaving lettuce out for the Brontosaurus right along with your cat food/T-Rex, cause I remember watching those shows. My mom: “Don’t flip the dial to change the channel! You’ll wear it out!” (yes, I remember the days before remotes. How did we ever survive?!)

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