Plugged In: Ellen Newberg, PBR
With the start of the league’s 25th anniversary season this past weekend, the PBR’s senior vice president of events, Ellen Newberg, has a host of new initiatives she’s tackling. From a rebranding effort that’s been implemented for the silver anniversary, and has seen the PBR’s premier series renamed in 2018, to launching a new premium experiences effort that takes fans further behind the scenes than ever, Newberg is keeping busy as she runs event marketing for the bull-riding series.
It was this huge breath of fresh air and opportunity that came with
Endeavor acquiring us. It was kind of like having a whiteboard to sit down, look at the business and say, ‘What are our opportunities?’”
Courtesy of: PBR
On embracing and playing up its patriotic roots: Patriotism and Americana has been such a part of our DNA from day one that it’s almost become an oversight — it was part of who we are and how we took that message out there. But last year was the first time we really took a step back, looked at it and said, “This is who we are and we need to be proud of it, stand up for it, and share that,” where you might have taken a more passive or humbler approach to it in the past. The Celebrate America campaign started in late ’16 for a launch in ’17; our riders took a pledge to celebrate America and stand by those who protect us and afford us opportunities and freedoms. There were a few different pillars: The focus was active, current heroes within the local community, celebrating everyday difference makers, and there was an agricultural arm of this as well. Moving into 2018, we’re shifting focuses to fallen heroes — really diving into local communities and taking a step forward in all our initiatives to affect individual lives, primarily in youth organizations.
On the new technology PBR is developing to create greater data around the bulls: We have been working with our partners this year — and will hopefully be launching soon — on the development of bull sensors, as a way to literally measure and quantify how well a bull is or is not performing, from the height of their kicks, to the twist of their turns and G-forces. It’s important for the competition absolutely No. 1, but No. 2 is now we’re going to have this amazing story via technology to come back to our fan bases and be able to explain to them what it’s like to ride a bull outside of fancy [mechanical bulls].
On creating soft-sell content to cut through the clutter: Promoters like PBR all know that people are served millions and millions of hard-sell ads every single day, and it becomes this blasé wallpaper-type feel, so how do you cut through that clutter? You come up with really cool, engaging, soft-sell-type programs, like what we did with Schick razors. It’s called the “PBR Up Close with Schick Xtreme3” — so it’s their sponsorship of many features with various riders and brand integration into some really compelling content. Individuals and fans want to get that deeper engagement, more knowledge about their favorite athletes and stars, etc., and this is a great way for Schick to show their support of the program, and it’s not a 30-second ad that you have to sit through and can’t wait to skip through. It’s embedded into the existing content, so it just makes it that much softer but highly relevant.