Been meaning to write this for a couple of weeks, and for some reason I keep forgetting. Actually Brain hipped me to this last summer in an email, and I either forgot or have been trying to subconsciously blot it out ever since.
The Kentucky Derby is the oldest sporting event in the United States, and the one with the most tradition. This year is the 132nd running of the Derby, and it has always gone out of it's way to market/promote/cultivate it's image as a historic southern tradition full of dignity and elegance. When The Masters, another event with a rich tradition, started in 1933, The Derby had already been run annually for 58 years. When you go to Churchill Downs on Derby Day, you can feel the history and tradition dripping all over the place, and you are overcome with the really cool feeling that you are experiencing someting very similar to what your grandfather and great grandfather before him experinced. I have felt this at Fenway park, and at Augusta National, but at the Derby you feel it moreso just because the same race has been run at the same track since 1875.
CD before renovation: Spires towering & dominant
It was one thing when Churchill Downs decided to modernize and do a huge renovation and expansion 2 years ago, resulting in high rise luxury boxes and whatnot that drastically reduced the striking appearance of the famous twin spires, which are original from 1875 and the signature feature of both Churchill Downs and The Kentucky Derby. Traditionalists winced that the imposing spires were now engulfed by high rise boxes on either side, (think lots of big corporate tents at Amen Corner during the Masters, behind the 11th, 12th, and 13th greens), but everyone acknowledged that the renovations were long overdue and made for a much better experience for the high rollers who are Churchill Downs most valued customers.
CD after renovation: not so much
But this is just too damn much. The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands? It's not so much that they decided to sell out and allow a presenting sponsor. I mean the Rose Bowl is presented by AT&T, which is acceptable because it has been done kind of tastefully and AT&T is an old blueblood company which does not go against the whole ethos of the Rose Bowl. But Yum!Brands? Are you shitting me? Was Chuck E. Cheese not available?
The name Yum! Brands on this event makes The Outback Bowl look like Wimbledon. Hell, it wouldn't even be so bad if it was simply Yum Brands, but Yum! Brands? Fucking horrible. In the past Derby corporate tie-ins have been with old school companies that exude a similar tradition to the track/event - Woodford Reserve, Crown Royal, etc. When VISA came on board as part of their sponsorship of the Triple Crown that even seemed to be pushing the envelope a bit for the traditionalists. Now we have the equivalent of the GalleryFurniture.com bowl, except if this is what the Rose Bowl was renamed as.
Hey Yum! Brands - I understand that you bought KFC, Pizza Hut & Taco Bell from PepsiCo and that you also own Long John Silvers and A&W. I also understand that you are doing very well as a company, especially in the emerging Chinese economy, but your name is just too damn silly to be taken seriously by anyone, anywhere, let alone Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of May. You should be sponsoring NASCAR not the Derby, even if your corporate headquarters is in Louisville. And you, Churchill Downs, what the hell are you thinking? OK, you see a business opportunity to get some corporation to write you a check with eight zeroes before the decimal point. But why the hell didn't you do this with a corporation a little farther towards the other end of the brand image spectrum as Chuck E. Cheese?
Twin Spires with famous sign between
Worst of all, their plan to try to do to the Derby what Tostitos has done to the Fiesta bowl called for an enormous Yum! Brands sign to be placed between/below the twin spires and directly above the famous sign that shows that the Derby has been run here every year since 1875. Thankfully this plan has been called off because so many people have complained, or according to the official spin just becuase they changed their mind at the last minute for no apparent reason.
"Hmmm. A giant Yum! Brands sign here
would really complete the room..."
As horrible as this is, I suppose I should take solace in the fact that in 12 days I will be attending
The 132nd Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands
and not the
The 132nd Yum! Brands Kentucky Derby
And yes, unlike Pamela Anderson, I am still going . And yes, I'll drink several juleps, see thousands of beautiful women in their sundresses and hats, play the ponies, and have a blast with my buddies. But still, this is flat-out hideous.
If you are silly enough to give your corporation such a stupid-ass name, you simply should not be allowed anywhere near an event like The Derby.