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Know Your Audience

September 21, 2010

The Get Motivated! Business Seminar is coming to town.  It’s a chance to hear some of the great speakers of our generation such as Zig Ziglar, Steve Forbes, and Colin Powell.  While I have little interest in most of the speakers, I wouldn’t mind hearing Zig Ziglar speak.  Steve Forbes would be interesting too.  So as seminars go, Get Motivated may actually be worthwhile.  But what has made me pay attention to the fact that it is coming to Indianapolis is that they really botched the advertising.

Indianapolis is first and foremost a sports town.  Of course, you’re  probably aware of the fact that Indiana is known for basketball.  But you may not have known that the city of Indianapolis is home to the NCAA, USA Diving, Midwest USTA, USA Gymnastics, USA Football,the Horizon League, The NFL Scouting Combine, and  The National Federation of High School Associations.  Indianapolis also is home to the Colts and the Pacers as well as a AAA baseball team.  Yet, above all those elite sports organizations, Indianapolis is most known for the Indianapolis 500.  You’ve heard of it right?  The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.  The event is held every May over Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which is also the location for The Brickyard 400.

With the knowledge that the Indy 500 is one of the best known sporting events in the world and is what has essentially put Indianapolis on the map, what did the promoters of Get Motivated do?  They ran an ad that touted Danica Patrick as a speaker and labeled her as a “NASCAR driver.”  This was wrong on so many levels.  First, this is freaking Indianapolis.  Home of Indy Car racing.  Second, Danica Patrick has run all of maybe five NASCAR races while she has competed in Indy Car for over five years.  Third, Patrick has actually won an Indy Car race (rain shortened, but a win is a win) and I’m not sure she’s even finished in the top 20 of any of her NASCAR starts.  So what idiot drafted that radio script to be aired in Indianapolis?

The good news is that someone got the message and they have since changed the radio ad.  Now Patrick’s name is tagged on the end of the list of speakers and she is not credited with any association to Indy Car or NASCAR.  In fact now she sounds like an afterthought.  Of course, none of this even deals with the issue of Patrick as a motivational speaker.  I’ll give her credit.  She competes in one of the top sports in the world, it’s a sport dominated by men, and she has been modestly successful.  On the other hand she is no where near the level of many of the other speakers in the Get Motivated seminar.  Where does she rate next to Colin Powell, Zig Ziglar, Steve Forbes, or Rudy Giuliani?  She’s not even on the level of Joe Montana or Terry Bradshaw.  What would we think of any of these men if they were best known for their swimsuit pictures?  Either way, I’m sure there are some people out there who would like to hear what she has to say.  And as an Indy Car fan and Indianapolis resident, anything to bring attention to the 500 is good.

Now the ad writer needs to work on one more issue.  Joe Montana, the greatest quarterback of all time?  This is Indianapolis, home of the Colts.  You might have heard of a guy named Peyton Manning.  San Francisco may think Montana is the greatest.  Even some Notre Dame fans around here may agree, but I think most Indianapolis residents would beg to differ.  Reasonable people will agree to disagree, but let’s face it, when you’re marketing a product, it’s best to know your audience.

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One Response to Know Your Audience

  1. Dan Rutledge on September 24, 2010 at 5:51 am

    We were watching the Panthers play last week and my daughter says “How come we don’t get Peyton Manning to be our quarterback?” Um, yes, that would solve a few things. I guess they just never asked him nicely or something.


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