What’s The Rush?

The best laid schemes of mice and men - much ado about nothing - or just a plain poor show?

Whats-the-rushNext month will be a year since Racing It’s A Rush was launched to much fanfare as an intended single unified brand that would represent the sport of horseracing for the first time in its history.

While the promotion of the sport of kings is an acknowledged hot dog of a job on any given Saturday, there really has been little evidence of any follow through or goals scored from where we are standing.

The concept has at best achieved a big E – for embarrassment.

The initiative boasted the aim of ‘bringing horseracing back to the forefront of the lifestyle entertainment industry in South Africa’.

But today, just a month or so short of what could have been joyous birthday celebrations and pats-on-the-back for a job well done, the dream appears to lie in tatters as another costly, poorly conceived marketing exercise gone horribly wrong.

As a start – and an end – It is just simply not good enough that the basics are not managed – like a website ‘under construction’ for ages.

Racing, It's A Rush logoAnd where is the tangible value on any front?

This adds impetus to the cynical, but rather realistic, school of opinion held by many of us involved in the game on a daily basis – that a ‘Fail’, in big red letters, is the only action expected in the next while.

That is unless one believes that isolated tweets, random Facebook posts, logos adorning on-course flags and signboards, and handlers wearing jaded looking ‘Racing- It’s A Rush’ t-shirts represents the ‘reinstilling of confidence and excitement in our existing fan base’ – and that’s in their words, not ours.

The resignation earlier this month of National Marketing Manager of Racing It’s A Rush, Michael Varney, could well prove to be the final death knell of an ungainly creature that nobody wants – even though we have heard talk of a ‘handover’.

Going back to the official launch, Varney said:

Maps Maponyane, Michael Varney, Dineo Moeketsi

Dineo Moeketsi, Michael Varney and Maps Maponyane

“Part of the beauty of horseracing is the multitude of different interests and parties involved. In order to re-establish ourselves as an enduring and sustainable brand, all of the major players have joined together to launch a campaign aimed at elevating this incredible sport, promoting its core values and messages to all South Africans in our aim to redefine racing as the destination of business, sport, lifestyle and entertainment.”

He is also the man that told the Sporting Post on 26 February 2015 that the new website was being worked on and ‘should be rectified today or tomorrow’.

But maybe we should have seen the writing on the wall as early as December last year when we addressed questions from a reader to him and the Racing It’s A Rush ambassador, Maps Maponyane. Who?

A profile on Maponyane in November 2014 generated a reader’s letter, and despite repeated requests, an official response was received saying that ‘a decision has been taken not to engage further’.

So who works for who? Have a look at the reader’s letter here – was it really that difficult to answer? Or was it just a pain in the rear?

For a charismatic media personality and ‘fashionista’, Maps Maponyane, who is said to ‘epitomise one of the new audiences horseracing in South Africa is setting out to attract’, is a decidedly scarce man. We have seen a helluva lot more of Alistair Cohen and Cecil Mthembu – and frankly enjoy them a lot more too.

It's A Rush launch

The start – Natalie Fletcher (Pale Ink Events), Michael Varney, Bianca Lee (Racing. It’s a Rush) and Lillie Elpida (Pale Ink Events)

To put it mildly, Maps has proven rather shy and unfriendly – considering he is being paid to do a job of work.

One wonders when last he simply attended a race meeting? One would think we would know about it when he graced a racecourse.

Varney’s eloquent and idealistic (certainly in this tough environment) marketing-speak at the glitzy launch may sadly also come back to haunt the project:

“We want to discover, engage and attract a loyal following of new fans, sponsors and media to our sport…”

Really? But they can’t even engage with a loyal patron of thirty year’s standing – who was asking what many of us were thinking. And, dare we say it again, maintain a website!

The Racing It’s A Rush tombstone could read:

In August 2014 they cleared the plot – a year later the plot’s still there – it’s just overgrown with Port Jackson and weeds – and a fire hazard at best.

Maybe it’s best that they switch off the life support now.

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