To kick off its coverage of the 2007 Professional Bull Riding season, the channel formerly known as Outdoor Life Network has let bulls loose around New York City via wild postings: two billboards across from Madison Square Garden, manhole covers complete with smoke-flaring nostrils and four fully wrapped cowhide taxi cabs offering New Yorkers free "bull rides."
"It looks like the streets of New York got a lot more competitive for bike messengers," Versus President Gavin Harvey said at today's press conference at Madison Square Garden.
Creative partner Taxi
The large-scale out-of-home initiative was one of Versus' first endeavors with creative partner Taxi, the Canada-based boutique that signed with the network in July to help with its rebranding.
"With New York we wanted to bring it to the streets," said Bill Bergofin, senior VP-marketing at Versus. "A lot of what we are is raw, authentic and intense ... and we like [Taxi] because they're strategic and very risk-taking."
Versus also took a risk by unleashing its bull-riding creative on unsuspecting New Yorkers, who wouldn't necessarily fall into the bull riding's target audience. Billboards flaunting slogans such as "The rankest bulls in the world are in New York City" were designed to introduce authentic terminology to the sport's novices.
"We're all bull with no bull," Mr. Bergofin said.
Still a relative newcomer to the world of cable sports programming, the Versus network reaches 74 million homes and is anchored by its hockey, cycling and now bull-riding coverage.
"We want to be an avatar for success in the world or success in life," Mr. Bergofin said. "Sports competition at the highest level is how we program."
Of course, offering Manhattanites free cowhide taxi trips helps too. Joked three-time PBR champion Adriano Moraes: "Those bulls don't give you free rides at all."