NBC Enlists Influencers To Promote Kentucky Derby

    • The venerable American race employs some new marketing tricks this year to drive TV viewership.
    • NBC sends 'party boxes' to hundreds of celebrities and social media influencers.

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The ol’ Kentucky Derby is learning some new marketing tricks.

To help promote Saturday’s 147th Kentucky Derby this Saturday, NBC Sports has enlisted celebrities and social media influencers.

NBC sent out limited-edition “Kentucky Derby Party Boxes” to hundreds of celebs and influencers, then asked them to share their party plans under the hashtag #DerbyAtHome. 

These boxes contain everything from souvenir dirt from the Churchill Downs racetrack and collectible bottles of Woodford Kentucky bourbon to ingredients, recipes, coasters, and games. 

The network sent them to a wide array of influencers and NBCUniversal talent ranging from Premier Lacrosse League founder Paul Rabil and singer Kelly Clarkson to celebrity BBQ chef Bernie Kendrick.  

The goals: boost Kentucky Derby TV viewing through social media channels like TikTok, and employ cross-company marketing to push a single, huge sporting event.

“To us, the Kentucky Derby is the ultimate party. It’s not just for those who are at the event,” said Dan Palla, NBC’s director of consumer engagement. “This spotlights the idea that the event is, and should be, celebrated wherever you are. It has great connective tissue for any social gathering.”

NBC’s strategy is showing results. In the weeks leading up to Saturday’s race, influencers put their own spin on how to entertain guests during the famous race.Influencer Patrick Zeinali created a TikTok on the proper way to mix a Mint Julep for his 568,000 followers. Kendrick showed his 287,000 TikTok followers how to create a lobster meal for race day.