R660 plans rule-breaking empire themed around adrenaline sports

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Paul Berger wants to become the Martha Stewart of adrenaline athletics.

To help him reach that lofty goal, Mr. Berger, CEO of Rule 660 Communications, tapped Santa Monica, Calif.-based Colby Effler & Partners to promote his newly created R660 action sports media network.

Although R660 has "a very different demographic and subject matter" than Martha Stewart, Mr. Berger wants to emulate her multimedia approach. With the help of partners Hearst Magazines and SFX Entertainment, R660 plans to have a same-name magazine, Saturday morning TV show and multiple Web sites dedicated to coverage of teen-oriented music, fashion and culture. The lifestyle company also will stage music and sports events.

The R660 designation comes from a New York ordinance -- Rule 660 -- that prohibits skating and bike riding on city sidewalks, said Mr. Berger, formerly CEO of golf equipment marketer Outlook Sports Technologies.

R660's media entities will cover all cultural aspects of a teen lifestyle, "from what [sports] these athletes are doing, what clothes they are wearing, what music they're listening to," he explained.

Mr. Berger's launch, similar to Ms. Stewart's start, involves partners. SFX will develop and produce an R660-branded TV show, while Hearst will launch a custom magazine titled R660. Both are set to debut in November. Mr. Berger wouldn't disclose which sports cable network will carry the TV program, but those close to the discussions identified Fox Sports Net. R660, with initial circulation estimated at 750,000, will be sold at newsstands, concerts, sporting events, retail outlets and through the mail.

Technology company Viant and youth marketing company Familie are also involved with creation of R660 media properties.


"We've been very smart in choosing our partners," Mr. Berger said.

To get the attention of the under-18 set, R660 plans a stealth approach for early marketing efforts. "Initially, you'll see a lot of guerrilla marketing," said Colby Exec VP-Marketing Director Kim Haskell. "There'll be a lot of underground stuff."

The non-traditional marketing will start in November, followed by an estimated $11 million TV and print effort running in both Hearst and non-Hearst magazines including Gear, Maxim and Spin.

R660 will have to compete with an already crowded field, going up against ESPN's X Games and Emap USA and NBC's Gravity Games.

Mr. Berger, however, is unconcerned. "We view ourselves as complementary to the X Games or Gravity Games," he said.


Sports marketing expert Bill Carter said there's room for yet another action-sports oriented company, but cautioned R660 on itsbranding approach, noting a multimedia tack doesn't always work with youth culture. "One of the hurdles that Rule 660 has to overcome is that kids aren't into one-stop shopping. If they buy the magazine, are they going to watch the TV show or attend the events?" He added: "Kids don't like to lock into one brand."

One of Rule 660's advisory board members, Neal Wood, a BMX bike world champion from England and now based in Huntington Beach, Calif., believes in the multiproperty approach. "I work with R660 because they've got cool plans for multimedia ventures, and we want to show the kids what great sports are out there. We're taking what everyone else is doing now and making it better."

Contributing: Bonnie Tsui

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