Blog post
November 7, 2019

Melbourne Cup 2019: Who were the real winners and losers?

With the 2019 Melbourne Cup done and dusted, we look back at the key trends that were shaping the conversation on social, online, print and broadcast media.

Year on year, the sentiment surrounding the Melbourne Cup shifts. With concern for the welfare of horses on and off the track. It is slowly overtaking the attention of the glitz and glamour seen track side.

Australian’s are increasingly becoming torn with upholding the traditions of an inherently conservative sport and attempt to maintain a hold on their moral compass. The Spring Carnival has sparked protests and heightened public consciousness. All with a growing sense of indifference. 

Sentiment in the media

Traditional media is heavily involved with horse racing, yet on social media, public opinion about animal cruelty is overtaking the glossy glamour that usually dominates coverage.

An influx of handles were created in protest; #NupToTheCup was widely used with 1,411 mentions predominantly across social, 26 per cent of these mentions had negative sentiment. 

During the period 4 October to 4 November 2019 other handles #HorseRacing returned 2,938 mentions, #Horseracingkills 412 mentions and #AnimalCruelty returned 351 mentions across social, broadcast, online and press.

Keyword ‘Melbourne Cup’ returned 31,795 mentions across print, broadcast, social and online. From the below chart, the sentiment split is quite defined. Sentiment towards the Melbourne Cup is predominantly neutral at 67 per cent, followed by negative at 30 per cent. 

The captured data suggests 2019 will be remembered as the beginning of the end of the Melbourne Cup.

Sentiment coverage of keyword ‘Melbourne Cup’ from period 4 October – 5 November 2019

An Australian tradition

There is an ingrained perception for Australian’s to partake in Melbourne Cup activities that involve office sweeps, competitions for the best dressed and consume free flowing alcohol. Although Melbourne is the only state to receive a public holiday, it is still widely ‘celebrated’ in other states around the country. It is not uncommon for workplaces to take advantage of the day, hosting long lunches or enjoy soirees within their office space.

The racing industry

Despite the compulsive Melbourne Cup observance, it is argued the racing industry still thrives as a significant contribution to the economy. Evidence supports the Cup still plays an important role in Victoria’s sporting and social calendar and is an industry that is a significant asset for the state.

The ‘race that stops the nation’ has elevated from a niche sporting event to a national symbol. Animal rights protestors are more vocal each year, causing a shift in sentiment about the event. Essentially, when a nation changes, so too must the event.

Increasing concern about the welfare of retired horses and a string of deaths on the track – six horses have died during or as a result of the Melbourne Cup since 2013 – has amplified concern around animal cruelty, instigating protests in various states.

What remains to be seen is whether the money thrown at the problem improves the conditions of slow or retired horses or merely takes the heat off an industry that is currently under attack.  

If you’d like to understand the media lens on any topic, brand or audience, get in touch with us today.


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