28 April 2009

Free Publicity

The 500 Festival committee has announced that Dick Vitale will serve as grand marshall for the 500 Festival Parade. Some hate the move - as someone who watches plenty of college basketball, I know that Vitale can be grating. However, I find this to be a shrewd move by the festival.

When on-air, Vitale has some pet causes. Honoring Robert Montgomery Knight at IU is one of them - Mr. Vitale brings it up every time he is in Bloomington for a game.

After he serves as the Grand Marshall for the parade, you can bet that every time Vitale is in Indiana for a game - whether it's at Notre Dame, IU or Purdue - this experience will come up. Vitale will be on air speaking about the tradition and spectacle of the Indianapolis 500 on ESPN for a nationwide audience and promoting the city of Indianapolis at the same. Heck, even when he is on during the NBA Draft, producers can cut some footage of him in Indianapolis during May when the Pacers pick comes up.

So while some would have you believe that he has zero name recognition (like Patricia Heaton did) and makes no sense serving as grand marshall, I think Vitale will be great. He'll provide energy and an outlet for promoting the Indianapolis 500 and the month of May in Indianapolis all during college basketball season, which is exactly when no one is talking about the IndyCar Series and the ICS could use some visability.

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