ITV aims to make racing 'mainstream pop culture' with VR content from Cheltenham

ITV will promote the broadcast of the Cheltenham Festival this week with the release of a daily virtual reality highlights package.

Created by VR City, working with ITV’s media agency, Goodstuff Communications, the content will become available online at 7pm each day of the festival, which runs from today to Friday this week. It is the first major horse racing festival shown by ITV since it won the rights for the sport in January.

ITV said that it was aiming to "place racing at the heart of mainstream popular culture" with its coverage of the event.

Three camera crews will be making their way around the Gloucestershire festival each day, gathering footage from locations that ITV said were rarely shown on TV, such as the jockeys’ weighing room, as well as offering an insight into the workings of the ITV Racing production team.

Ed Ross, head of marketing and media at ITV, said: "When it comes to thrills, anticipation and atmosphere, nothing comes close to the Cheltenham Festival, so we wanted to give viewers who couldn’t be there the opportunity to be there with us, right at the heart of the action."

Laura Moorcraft, business director at Goodstuff, added that Cheltenham had "leapt out as the perfect opportunity to utilise the technology" of VR.

Equine-dow of opportunity

William Hill, meanwhile, is marking Cheltenham with an innovative display in seven locations to flag up that unlike many bookies, it shows all the live racing in its stores.

The brand has installed large window displays, created by Savvy, at stores in Euston Station and Aldgate in London, Manchester, Leeds, Sunderland, Coventry and Birmingham.

They feature a hologram-style animation of a racehorse and jockey, which appear to gallop across the window before picking up pace and breaking through the glass.

William Hill said the campaign had been prompted by research showing that three-quarters of people thought that all betting shops looked the same from the outside.

Liam McKee, head of retail marketing at William Hill, said: "Cheltenham is a key event for us. We know we offer great odds and great expertise but unlike most of our competitors we will also show all live UK horse racing every day of the festival.

"We wanted to bring to life our in-shop experience in our windows to generate a real sense of theatre and get people engaging with us."

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