You like to play with the pretty horses? Step away, until you pony up some cash, ha. High profile horse racing has become an entirely corporate marketing-driven spectacle, where horses are sponsored by UPS and owned by hedge funds. The big sponsor of the Kentucky Derby is YUM Brands, owner of Taco Bell and KFC. Who could embody the noble spirit of galloping stallions better than the nation's leading purveyor of Mexican Pizzas? Anyhow, YUM's CEO, David Novak, found out the perils of sponsoring an event with live animals when a horse up and died on the track at the Derby last weekend. With no idea what was happening, Novak stepped up moments later and gave his little speech plugging his company, which has proven to the world that he hates dead ponies:
"Well, Bob, what a great day for the commonwealth of Kentucky and the world. On behalf of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silver's and A&W, Yum Brands is the proud sponsor of the greatest event in the world. Thank you very much," he said, ticking off Yum's brand names.
By the time Mr. Novak spoke, though, bloggers, reporters and NBC itself were already telling of the collapse of Eight Belles, who broke down after finishing second and was euthanized.
Online commenters pilloried Yum for its seeming insensitivity.
"Based on the YUM reps' disgraceful smiling and product plugging — while Eight Belles was dying yards away from them — I'll never buy ANY of their products again," wrote one.
"I'm happy that the CEO of Yum is just smiling and not even caring that a horse was just killed on the track," wrote another.