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Young Savours Commercial Spotlight

Published: May 27, 2017 5:11 pm ET

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Driver Scott Young had been told from the beginning of the shoot that he was going to be the star of a new commercial about Ontario harness racing, but even he is taken aback by both how prominently he is featured and the positive reaction the spot is receiving.

“Everybody has always said, ‘His head is big enough. Now he’s not going to be able to fit it through the door.’ I just laughed at that,” Young said. “It was a lot of fun to do. I’m getting nothing but good feedback from everybody. I’ve had multiple people tell me that they like it. I’m happy people do and, hopefully, it brings people out to the racetrack.”

The Thrill of Winning is currently airing in Ontario. This 60-second version is being shown in movie theatres:

This 30-second version is being aired on television:

The commercial, the result of a collaboration between the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Ontario Racing (OR), was produced by Toronto agency BBDO which commissioned Suneeva production company and director Jason Van Bruggen.

On April 20, The Thrill of Winning premiered at Flamboro Downs, but Young couldn’t stay to see the ad because he had drives in the first four races.

“Probably four or five of the other drivers in it were able to stay and watch it. When they all came over to the drivers’ room I said, ‘How did it look?’ They said, ‘It’s a commercial about you, Youngy…’ I said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with that.’ They said, ‘You’re going to like it because it’s just you the whole time.’ I thought, ‘Perfect,’” Young said, laughing.

He’s kidding, but there’s no doubt the 25-year-old up-and-coming driver from Guelph, Ont. doesn’t mind the attention, particularly if the sport he has loved ever since he could walk gets some mainstream attention.

“I have driven around London and Guelph a couple of times and even once over by Elora and I’m on all these billboards right now for Ontario Racing. So, that’s kind of cool. I’ve seen three in London. I saw those first and then I had the video sent to me and then once it went on Standardbred Canada, I had probably 20, 25 people tag me in it or share it. My non-horse racing friends have been sending me Snapchat or clips. They’ve said they’ve seen it on Global News, CityNews. I guess it was on Sportsnet the other night. It’s been all over, so that’s pretty cool.,” Young said.

There’s even talk of a large group of Young’s non-racing friends having a night out at the races this summer.

“They are all friends I grew up with in high school. Honestly, they have nothing to do with horse racing. One of the girls actually came to the Confederation Cup on Sunday (May 21). She texted me and said, ‘Oh, I see you’re here. Tell me who to bet.’ I told her to bet (eventual winners) Trevor Henry and Western Fame. She was all happy and they were all talking about my commercial last week and now I think there’s 25 or 30 of us that are talking about going to Grand River this summer. I’m going to race, but they’re going to have a night out at the races. That’s perfect. That’s exactly what I was looking for,” Young said.

It is also the reaction Adriana Spatzner was hoping for from the commercial. Spatzner, the Director of Product Development and Marketing for OLG, played a key role in the development of the ad.

“The main goal is really to connect Ontarians with this beautiful sport,” Spatzner said. “Our job really is focusing on creating that awareness, first and foremost. Although people in Ontario know that horse racing is available, it’s not top of mind in terms of entertainment, generally speaking. So, that’s what we’re trying to do is make sure that we have that top-of-mind awareness and then work with the tracks so the tracks can leverage that awareness to draw people to their tracks and give them that experience and create a customer who will become a repeat customer.”

A year ago, the OLG worked with OR and BBDO to create a thoroughbred-themed ad called Your Horse:

“So, we did want to try to round that out this year, which we were able to do by focusing on standardbreds first and, at the end of the commercial we have a small clip that shows some quarter horse racing,” Spatzner said. “I think in taking (viewers) through this beautiful story about a so-called underdog that continues to race and perseveres throughout their journey, I think that’s one of the connections people have, in general, to competitions and sports. So, it was to let them see it through standardbred racing and to really see the excitement of the sport we’re hoping will create a stronger connection.”

Young said late in 2016 he was asked by Flamboro Downs paddock judge Marnie Bochenek if he wanted to be in a commercial. “I said, ‘Sure.’ I studied two years of broadcasting when I was first done high school. So, I always loved being in front of the camera. She asked a bunch of drivers that drive at Flamboro if we had time to do it. So, I was on board right away,” he said.

The driver said the commercial was shot over three 12-hour days last December at Flamboro

“We staged races. I lost 100 races, probably. Then on the last day I won like 15 of them. At the end of every one, I had to make sure I won and I did the fist pump at the end of every one, as well,” Young said. “It was a lot of fun. They put a camera hooked up to my bike… about a foot-and-a-half from my nose. I had to jog a horse around four or five laps around the track with this camera bouncing in front of me the whole time. It was cool.”

Apart from the attention he hopes the commercial brings to his sport, Young said he’s hoping the ad will provide him with some real-life karma, as well. In his eighth year as a driver, Young has never had a better start to a season. Through nearly five months, he has 73 wins and earnings of $446,412 and a career-best driving percentage of .250. His previous best for a full 12 months was 98 wins (in 2014) and earnings of $677,220 (in 2016).

“Knock on wood, this is the best year I’ve had, so far, at this point in the year,” Young said, “I’m trying to keep it rolling. I’ve had a bunch of people, whether from sharing (the commercial) on Facebook or something else, have come and shook my hand in the paddock and told me I did a great job. Honestly, I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from it. If it turns into me getting more drives, then I’m all for it, that’s for sure.”

(Courtesy Ontario Racing)

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