Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - 39
bursts of mayhem. It's a sport based on
old-time traditions that's at the same
time seemingly tailor-made for today.."
And it isn't just in western or rural areas. PBR drew more than 30,000 fans
to Madison Square Garden in New
York in January.
PBR's steady rise in popularity also
stems from a fan base that isn't limited
to the United States. PBR has bull
riders from Canada, Mexico, Australia
and Brazil on its circuit. In particular, bull riding in Brazil has reached
impressive heights. More people in
Brazil attend bull-riding events than
even soccer, according to Giangola.
And Brazilian riders continue to gain
in popularity, as currently 11 of the top
30 ranked riders are Brazilian.
As the sport continued to grow in
popularity with a more mainstream
audience, talent agency WME-IMG
took notice. It purchased PBR in 2015,
and neither organization has looked
"For PBR, the WME-IMG acquisition opened up a world of resources we
didn't have before being acquired," Sohigian says. "It has made all the difference
as we continue to build the brand."
First and foremost among those
resources was research data. WMEIMG immediately delved into the
profiles of 30,000 typical PBR fans,
sending out questionnaires and finding
out key traits such as where they shop
and what they like to do. "That really
helped us in determining the types of
licensing partners we wanted to go after, and it gave us the ammunition we
needed to land them," Sohigian notes.
This type of information has proven
to be a huge resource to Sohigian, who
is on an executive team tasked with
pushing bull riding from what many
consider to be a niche sport into the
mainstream. Since the WME-IMG
purchase, the results have been spectacular. In fourth-quarter 2016 alone,
PBR signed seven new licensees.
Significantly, the newer licensees
offer much broader distribution for
PBR, whereas before the only licensees
PBR could get were mostly limited
to the western market or agricultural
regions. As a result, PBR is starting to
see companies such as clothing designer Affliction, with products available
at Macy's, sign licensing agreements.
Additionally, PBR also renewed its
agreement with Two Horns Wine,
"The Official Wine of the PBR,"
which is distributed through retailers
such as HyVee, Giant Eagle, Harris
Teeter and Jumbo Jim's in Cincinnati.
Those licensee agreements join some
strong existing relationships, including PBR's two biggest sponsors, Ford
Motor Company, which sponsors the
league's premier "Built Ford Tough
Series" to showcase its F-Series trucks.