For most people living in Indiana, May in Indianapolis can only mean one thing: The Indy 500.
Great news… if you were only selling tickets to the 500. Not so great if you’re trying to grow attendance for the entire month. More racing, practice days, concerts, and ancillary events happen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all month long.
The biggest among them is the IndyCar Grand Prix, a road-course race which happens two weeks before the 500. Created in 2014 as a way to push track attendance earlier in the month, the Grand Prix had been marketed as its own distinct event. With its smaller crowds and shorter duration, it’s a memorable race experience for families, thrill seekers and entertainment-seekers looking for an alternative to the Indy 500’s race day experience, which for some, can be a bit much.
The turnaround had to begin with a re-imagining of the positioning strategy. Instead of marketing separate events, we decided to present the entire month as one very special event. In Indy, May is a thing. We feel it. We see it. The weather warms up. The checkered flags come out. The world leans in. There’s a parade. A mini marathon. Porch parties and picnics. People throughout the community get excited about May, whether or not they ever step foot inside the track.
We leveraged this excitement for May to position the entire month as a month-long celebration of speed, tradition, excitement and community. From 5/1 to the 500, This Is May.
From the Super Bowl commercial kicking off the campaign in February to out-of-home, print and digital, the city was canvassed in “This Is May” right up to race day. Outdoor, social, and digital media reminded people what makes May so special. Visuals were emotional and dreamy. Like cherished memories, the creative reignited the love of the city and its crown jewel, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
But you can’t buy a ticket to an emotion, or even a month. So after initial messaging, we switched gears to promote specific ticketed events where each one served as yet another example of what makes May, May. We positioned the Grand Prix as Opening Weekend to May. And the practice days, qualifying weekend, Carb Day, Legends Day, the Snake Pit and of course, the 500 — these are all a part of May.
Audience of One
We retargeted. We responded to abandoned shopping carts. This is May became a personal invitation to be a part of the festivities.
THE COMMUNITY RESPONDED
“This is May” took on a life of its own. The community embraced it. Journalists, drivers and civic leaders borrowed our language. Partners and sponsors adopted it. The hashtag appears thousands of times on Instagram alone. The pride throughout the city was palpable — as everyone rallied around the Greatest Month in Racing. The campaign didn’t simply move turnstiles. It moved an entire community.
February ticket sales doubled year over year.
Total event sales through April were +12%.
Not only did Indianapolis area sales start ahead of pace, but key outer market sales were trending significantly upward two weeks out from 500 race day.