Introducing: Sleepy Eyes Todd

Each year, hundreds of Thoroughbred stallions spend their winter at breeding farms, ready to pass on their genes to the next generation. Some stallions retire from the racetrack as millionaires (or more) with multiple big wins (aka graded stakes wins) to their name. Others retire with a decent race record. But they all retire with the same goal in mind: produce the next champion.

Sleepy Eyes Todd is a 17 hand gray stallion by Paddy O’Prado (finished third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, winner of five graded stakes) and out of the mare Pledge Mom (by Wild Rush, unraced). And he is one of the newest members of the stallion roster at Swifty Farms in Seymour, Indiana.

And my first equine-specific marketing client.

I was approached with the idea of helping Sleepy Eyes Todd make a big splash in the Thoroughbred breeding industry, specifically in Indiana. An earner of more than $2 million, “Sleepy” was sought out by a handful of different farms in various states, all wanting this handsome guy to make his mark on their breeding program. His owner, Thumbs Up Racing and David Cobb, chose Indiana because of the growth of the program, plus the proximity to the holy grail of racing–Kentucky.

One it was decided where he was standing, we came up with a game plan.

First, I contracted a talented co-worker of mine to come up with a logo for the stallion to be used on ads, swag and anywhere else we wanted to stamp his name. This is what Dustin came up with:

(I just love how he incorporated eyes into the name! And the fact that Sleepy is gray fits well with this color scheme that mimics Thumbs Up Racing’s silks.)

Next, I put together a press release announcing where Sleepy was standing at stud. No one else had known, though many media outlets had tried to interview Mr. Cobb to get an answer. I built the anticipation by tweeting out teases in the days leading up and chatting with some writer buddies about his prospects. The press release was well-received.

Then, we set about obtaining rights to some race photos for advertising, and I worked my magic on booking some digital advertising space on some Thoroughbred racing websites I had experience with. I never thought I would be good with media buying, but I’ve learned a lot over the years, and developed some great relationships. Mr. Cobb wanted Sleepy’s marketing to not only be regional, but national, since he was a headlining horse.

Sleepy Eyes Todd winning the Charles Town Classic G2

In order to have digital ads, you must have a website to send clicks to. Because there was an issue with the company Swifty Farms contracted to update their website, Sleepy needed his own. I built a simple site that included a photo gallery, his pedigree and links to his social media, which I also took over.

I designed a full page print ad to be published in a few issues of The Blood-Horse and Thoroughbred Daily News and I contracted a digital ad designer to help me create animated ads in the various sizes needed for the various sites. The idea was to make sure people knew Sleepy Eyes Todd was ready to “Wake Up” the breeding industry.

Profile pieces were written and I arranged for interviews with Mr. Cobb for other online outlets, all to help encourage breeders.

Finally, it was time to order swag! We knew that many of the Kentucky farms carry items with their stallions’ names and/or logos on them such as hats, jackets, etc. We wanted to thank the breeders during the inaugural breeding season with branded items.

I worked with a local Indiana company, BTS Promotions, to order classy black coffee tumbles with the logo laser-engraved in silver as well as black and charcoal ball caps with the logo. Every step of the way, I made sure Mr. Cobb saw the process, from logo creation to choosing the tumbler to choosing the exact type of ball cap he wanted. The backs of the hats included a shout-out to his racing stable with two thumbs up.

Now, each time a breeder brings a mare to Swifty Farms to breed to Sleepy, they are thanked by receiving a specially-packaged gift box filled with Sleepy Swag and a handwritten thank you for choosing to send their mare to Sleepy.

Breeding season is well under way, and it looks like our boy has been well-received so far. I’m exited to take the next steps in promoting him as his first crop of foals arrive in 2023.

Want to know more about how we can team up to promote your farm or stallion? Contact me!

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