Kristin Warfield is the vice president of partnerships at Churchill Downs, 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, we begin with Warfield’s trajectory to becoming the vice president of partnerships and why the Kentucky Derby is such a unique experience. Even though people come to the Derby for varied reasons, Warfield believes that “There’s a party for everyone” and makes it her focus to partner with companies to give them the experience they seek. 

Warfield discusses the shifts she had to make to work with partners in the last year 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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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.