Friday, July 2, 2010

At Long Last, Worcester!





Friends, I am proud to be able to post Kris DiLorenzo’s report on the 2010 Worcester Invitational, which she attended back in early May. I also invite you to check out the blog for her new company, Bull Riding Marketing, at http://bullridingmarketing.wordpress.com. You can also follow her on twitter at MarketBullRidin. Here she is!

The 2010 Worcester Invitational

The bulls won. I’ve never seen anything like it. Six riders made 8 seconds on Saturday night, but nobody made 8 seconds on Sunday afternoon, though Connecticut cowboy Dan Welsh got close. One commentator joked that they’d have to give the money to the bulls. Velcro was mentioned. There shouldn’t have been a Championship Round, but the powers that be decided that whoever had lasted close to 8 seconds would be in it. Then, a handful of guys stuck.

I drove three hours and braved a scattering of animal cruelty protestors outside the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. to see the second of four PBR events in the Northeast. (I never tire of bragging that I saw JB hang onto Code Blue in Madison Square Garden in January.) There’s one aspect of bull riding the PBR should address: the public perception that bulls are tortured or hurt. I called out my car window to someone with a picket sign, “They don’t hurt the bulls, believe me! That’s expensive breeding stock!” -- not exactly a concerted PR effort.

I was horrified at the attendance—the lack thereof. On the second day, the arena was only half full; maybe less. Now that’s a marketing challenge I could sink my teeth into…and don’t think I won’t pester the PBR about it. Meanwhile, the Frontier Rodeo Website proclaims that they “delivered another sold-out event.” Seeing double? What’n hell were they drankin’??

The event had all the BFTS trappings—big screen, dramatically silhouetted entrance march, T-shirt shooters, joking commentators, and Rockin’ Robbie--the Touring Pro version of Flint. But the opening mix of flag-waving, Bible-thumping, politics (our veterans were in Iraq for peace; didja know that’s what all the firepower was about?), and declaring the U.S. “the greatest country in the world” was one distasteful spectacle. Excuse me, but how about not insulting the Brazilian riders? How about respect for non-Christians? How about this is a bull riding event, not a revival meeting? You wanna broaden bull riding’s appeal? Rein in the schlockmeisters.

Might as well turn out one more gripe. I wish they’d used the big screen to show rides, not wrecks! Most people don’t watch bull riding to see cowboys get maimed—they come to see them ride bulls. There’s plenty of footage of good rides—show it!

There were just two names on the day’s program you’d recognize: Cody Nance and Blueberry Wine’s son, Fine Wine. Kasey Hayes won Saturday night, but Sunday afternoon, the thrill was gone. Not for the bulls, though—they were hamming it up. After he dumped Ueberson Duarte, Tear Jerker didn’t want to scram; he charged the wrangler’s horse—first time I’ve seen that. Black Walnut so seriously balked at exiting that after roping him, the wrangler had to charge ahead of him to pull him into the chute after him. Broken Promises refused to leave center stage until a bullfighter ran into the chute, presenting him with a target he couldn’t resist chasing. Blue Collar flipped a bullfighter sky-high up over his back end (the bull’s back end, that is).

Cowboys got air-mailed every which way, and a lot of them didn’t get out of the way fast enough after they came down. On Blue Collar, local Jean Da Silva hung up by his foot, traveling upside down. After two buck-offs, Cody Nance came back for his re-ride ready for business: chapless, jeans tucked into his boots. Not the best look, but in the so-called Championship Round, he rode Motel Melvin for 87.5. Corey Atwell, Matt Werries, Tom Winikus, and Lance Roberts scored 90, 87.5, 91.6, and 86.5, respectively. Wallace de Oliveira, 10th in Nampa, didn’t stay aboard Barnstormer, but rode Vindictive in the Championship Round for 87.5.

Bulls were provided by Teague Bucking Bulls, Mark Reed, Frontier Rodeo Company, and Frontier Rodeo Company & Ray. Some to watch: Wee Willy will give a rider a good workout. Night Hawk has some good fakes. Loco is intense—not easy to ride. Alex is a big guy. And Austin Nights was giving it his all in the chute.

The fact that I took notes about the entertainment and announcing shows how dismal the first four rounds were. Announcer’s best lines: “Brazilian cowboy Darth Vader is gonna get the re-ride!” and “The bull riding fell apart like a cheap tuxedo” (McKee must be throwing his voice).

Rockin’ Robbie’s patter was sometimes a cut above the usual cheesy stuff. Trying to rev up the audience generation by generation, Robbie hollered at the under-20s, “Pull your pants up!!” He also informed us, “I’m 6′2″ on e-Harmony!” (Buyer beware.) Trying to be optimistic after the 40th buck-off, he proclaimed, “Somebody’s gonna ride somethin’ now—I know I’m right—I got ESPN!” Being told he had WBRDS (White Boy Rhythm Deficiency Syndrome), he danced wildly out of control, spun into the well of a cartwheel, and hit the dirt, at which point the announcer yelled, “Robbie! No more Red Bull, okay!?”

What surprised me was how many Northeastern riders were in the event: 18 from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Five riders were from the South, four from the Midwest, and 10 from Brazil. But it didn’t matter; it was the bulls’ day. A fake Championship Round is just depressing. Why the guys couldn’t do the 8 seconds in the other four rounds is beyond me. Maybe they just needed more of an audience.

6 comments:

shelia said...

Oh, yes! Fix that pre-game show! And fix or destroy that crashing riders video. I complained about that in my post from Winston-Salem!
Thanks for having the courage to stand up and say, "But the opening mix of flag-waving, Bible-thumping, politics (our veterans were in Iraq for peace; didja know that’s what all the firepower was about?), and declaring the U.S. “the greatest country in the world” was one distasteful spectacle. Excuse me, but how about not insulting the Brazilian riders? How about respect for non-Christians? How about this is a bull riding event, not a revival meeting? You wanna broaden bull riding’s appeal? Rein in the schlockmeisters." I will certainly tune in to your blog, Kris! Good luck with it!

Black Boots said...

Thanks for posting Kris. I'm in total agreement about all the histrionics beforehand. I like the parade of riders, but beyond that all I'd like to see is a couple of bulls trotted out to some spotlights and brassy fanfare. I remember seeing Little Yellow Jacket like that before the first PBR event I ever saw (at the gigantor Georgia Dome, no less) and it still sends chills up my spine to think about it.

Kris D said...

Hi, Black Boots and Shelia--

Thanks to both of you for your comments! I'd love to have them on my blog. I'm not tekkie enough to know how to transfer them--would you mind posting your same comments on my blog?

I really appreciate your support in my effort to wake up the PBR and show them that with some changes, they can get bull riding into the sports mainstream and into the public consciousness--and attract more female fans.

You are so right! The bulls should be trotted out, too (unless they'd get an attitude around one another). I would've loved to see Little Yellow Jacket back then.

Anonymous said...

(Shannon here. We had to buy a new computer and it's asking me for my password, but I can't remember it, so I'm posting under anonymous right now until I can figure out my account.)

Thanks for the write up, Kris! Between marketing and the opening show, I have a feeling that all of us here would have a great time sitting around chatting about the pros and cons of the PBR enterprise. To add to it, I have a friend who thinks the top athletes need publicists for various good (imo) reasons.

shannon said...

(I think I've figured it out now-let's see if this works)

I forgot to mention that I think it's interesting that there are PETA demonstrations in a few other places, yet here in L.A., which sometimes feels like PETA central, I've never seen one protester.

bullridingmarketing said...

You two inspired me: We are actually a fan club of our own already! Remember that slogan, "Sisterhood is Powerful"? I think it can work here.

If a bunch of women from all different parts of the country are all thinking the same things about what we want to see and have ideas about what the PBR ought to do for ticket buyers and viewers (sounds more important than "fans"), they ought to listen to us.

So-called "received wisdom" in direct marketing says if you get a 1% return on your mailing piece, that's good. In terms of viewer letters, networks assume that for every one letter they get, there are at least 10 other people out there thinking the same thing.

So... why don't we come up with a name for ourselves as a group? Then any ideas we have, we submit to the PBR through the PR guy (and the marketing guy, if I can get through to him) instead of through posts or tweets they apparently don't read or respond to.

This will also distinguish us from "Buckle Bunnies"!!