Busting Stereotypes, the Professional Bull Riders Recasts What Makes a Cowboy Today

Stetsons make way for more inclusive fandom in new ad

The Professional Bull Riders seek to show diversity among its fan base. Professional Bull Riders
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

You might not look anything like Gene Autry, John Wayne or the Marlboro Man, but you could still be a cowboy.

The Professional Bull Riders (PBR), in the first national advertising in the group’s 26-year history, brings together a diverse group of men and women—firefighters, teachers, mixed martial artists, wearing their own clothes, not primped or styled—for a dose of Americana and a big-tent appeal for the rodeo-spinoff sport.

The commercial, from PBR’s corporate sibling Endeavor Global Marketing, aired during the CBS Super Bowl pregame show. With a turnaround time of less than a month from concept to finished product—tagline, “Be Cowboy”—execs said they wanted to take advantage of the massive TV audience tuning into the big game and lift the veil on a sport that’s more closely associated with the Wild West than the NFL.

The first order of business was to bust a few old-school stereotypes and draw parallels to modern-day rugged individuals. (Stetsons and oversized belt buckles not required).

“Cowboy may be a caricature, but the name really means pride, bravery, fearlessness, dedication, hard work,” says Ryan Wagman, executive creative director, Endeavor Global Marketing. “If you believe in these values, you’re a cowboy whether you know it or not.”

Though PBR is a fast-growing sport, with worldwide viewing in the hundreds of millions, organizers are looking for new fans, taking a psychographic rather than demographic approach with their first branding campaign.

“It’s not the hats, it’s not the spurs, it’s not where you grew, what you chew, what you ride, what you drive,” the voiceover narration says, against a backdrop of stripped-down, black-and-white portrait shots, interspersed with bull riding action.

“Some say cowboys are a dying breed,” the narrator says. “We say we’ve never been more alive.”

Among the inclusive group of ad stars, there’s one working cowboy. (See if you can pick him or her out).

PBR has traditionally run local ads in the markets where it stages events (that’s included New York for a Madison Square Garden season opener early this year and will fan out to Los Angeles for an upcoming Staples Center show). Many of its competitions, which execs describe as a mix of extreme sports, comedy and rock concert, air on CBS and CBS Sports Network.

Aside from the 30-second anthem spot, a longer branded film is in the works, which will run on digital and social channels, along with the group’s OTT offering, RidePass, and at event venues.


Client: PBR (Professional Bull Riders)
Title: “Be Cowboy”
CEO: Sean Gleason
Agency: Endeavor Global Marketing
Executive Creative Director: Ryan Wagman
Creative Director: Matthew Maddox
Director & Director of Photography: David Morrison
Executive Producer: Justin Padilla
Post Production Director: Anderson Bradshaw
Editor & Post Supervisor: Max Paolucci
Animator & VFX Supervisor: Joseph Dunlap
Line Producer: Les Wells
Associate Producer: Kimberly Brausam

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@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.