Ontario Racing aims to disrupt routine outings

A new OLG campaign features horses tearing through golf courses and bowling alley to promote a more exciting entertainment option.


Horse racing is not the kind of event you attend for the first time on your own. And when organizing outings for family and friends, people are more likely to opt for safer, more familiar (and by extension less thrilling) entertainment options. Getting to the race track, then, is often a matter of finding the right people to tag along.

That’s the idea and strategy behind a new campaign for Ontario Racing by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).

New creative by Juniper Park\TBWA for the crown corp business shows people participating in a series of fairly standard group activities, such as golfing, bowling and grabbing a drink at the pub. Except, those activities are interrupted when racehorses come tearing through the scene, lending a little unexpected excitement to the outing. The commercial ends with the sound of crowds roaring and hooves pounding over shots of the race track.

The new work, called “Break the Routine,” represents the fourth time in four years that OLG has run a campaign promoting Ontario Racing as an entertainment option, according to Adriana Spatzner, director of product development and marketing for horse racing at OLG.

“The main consumer insight is that entertainment value isn’t measured in familiarity, but in the potential to make great memories,” she told strategy in an email. “We bring it to life in the creative by showing the familiar and disrupting it with the excitement of horse racing.”

BBDO previously handled marketing for the Ontario Racing brand. But following a mandatory review that saw three agencies shortlisted, JP\TBWA was named AOR for OLG’s horse racing business in May last year.

Based on its own consumer research, OLG discovered that first-timers find horse racing to be “a social experience, something that they want to experience with friends and family,” Spatzner says.


The work debuted on April 29, ahead of the 2019 spring-summer racing season.

OLG is specifically targeting the family member or friend that typically takes initiative to plan group events. These people could have been to the race track before or not (although the goal is specifically to raise awareness and consideration among new potential visitors).

Led by PHD, the media strategy was developed around one of the main creative insights. Much like in the spot, where routine activities are interrupted by horses, media placements are appearing in areas where consumers are likely to be consuming entertainment: on TV, online, in multiplex lobbies (with digital OOH) and during cinema pre-show.

The strategy also includes audio ads on Spotify, print placements in lifestyle publications, such as Food & Drink and Toronto Life, and event-specific social content focused on occasions like Father’s Day and Victoria Day.