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257: Betting on Partnerships to Amplify Your Brand with Churchill Downs’s Kristin Warfield

Kristin Warfield, VP Partnerships at Churchill Downs

Kristin Warfield is the VP of Partnerships at Churchill Downs Incorporated, home of the Kentucky Derby since 1875. During her twelve years at the historic racetrack, she has championed significant growth in the track’s partnership development and activation efforts. It includes new and expanded relations with Longines, the official timekeeper of the Kentucky Derby and title sponsor of the Kentucky Oaks; Woodford Reserve, the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby; and MassMutual, among many other alliances.

In this episode, Alan and Kristin begin with her trajectory to becoming the VP of Partnerships and why the Kentucky Derby is such a unique experience. Even though people come to the Derby for varied reasons, Kristin believes that “There’s a party for everyone,” and makes it her focus to partner with companies to give them the experience they seek. 

Alan and Kristin discuss the shifts Kristin had to make to work with partners and what makes a good partner in the first place. 

For anyone interested in horse racing, history, fashion, or the relationship between marketing and partnerships to amplify your brand, this episode is for you. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What makes the Kentucky Derby such a unique experience
  • How a digital shift can amplify customer engagement
  • What makes a good partnership
  • Using partnerships to connect with your customers

Key Highlights:

  • [01:41] Kristin’s backup career as Bingo the Clown
  • [02:55] How Kristin “fell into sports”
  • [05:05] Why the Kentucky Derby is a unique sport
  • [08:34] How COVID impacted the Derby
  • [11:13] Partner shifts to digital and virtual activations
  • [15:07] Cross-collaborations with partners
  • [16:50] The new Jackson Family Wines partnership
  • [18:36] The perfect blend of wine and racing 
  • [22:01] What makes for a good partnership
  • [27:44] Kristin’s advice to marketers identifying or negotiating partnership deals
  • [29:11] An experience that defines Kristin, made her who she is today 
  • [30:40] Kristin’s advice for her younger self
  • [31:05] Kristin’s recent impactful purchase
  • [32:25] The brands, companies, and causes Kristin follows
  • [33:50] What Kristin says is today’s biggest threat and opportunity for marketers

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