Tyson triggers sponsorship deal with Professional Bull Riders

One of the world’s biggest beef and chicken companies will piggyback on the Professional Bull Riders season-capping championship event in Las Vegas this month with hopes of reaching the all-important mom demographic.

Tyson Foods Inc., based in Springdale, Ark., has cut a deal with the Professional Bull Riders to become a partner of the PBR Built Ford Tough Series and the first-ever title sponsor of the PBR Fan Zone at the organization’s World Finals event in Las Vegas Oct. 23-27.

It’s a multiyear deal with options in the agreement, said Jim Haworth, president and CEO of the Pueblo, Colo.-based Professional Bull Riders, which was founded in April 1992.

Tyson has bought into the PBR platform to reach out to mothers in much the same way that the Campbell Soup Co. partnered with the National Football League with its advertising campaign that features the moms of famous NFL players.

“Mom and her family are the focal point of our Tyson-branded advertising, messaging and product innovation, and there are a lot of moms who watch PBR events,” Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman said.

“Moms recognize the Tyson brand as a trusted source of quality protein for her family, whether that be fresh chicken, chicken nuggets or hot wings,” Sparkman said.

Added Haworth: “I hope it’s as successful as the NFL and Campbell Soup … We’re pretty fortunate to have Tyson with us.”

As the official poultry, beef and processed foods provider of the PBR, Tyson plans to activate its Fan Zone title sponsorship with a high-profile presence at the bull-riding fan expo at Mandalay Bay Resort. Vons supermarkets in Las Vegas also plans to highlight Tyson products during PBR week, Haworth said.

Michele Bond, Tyson Foods vice president of marketing for value-added poultry-frozen, said in a statement: “We are very selective when choosing any type of sponsorship or partnership — it must align with our consumer’s interests and lifestyle and our business strategy. The PBR does just that.”

Tyson’s annual sales in 2012 hit $33.3 billion, with beef representing 41 percent of the sales and chicken accounting for 35 percent, according to the company’s investor information. Tyson accounted for 26 percent of the overall beef production in the United States and 21 percent of the chicken production, investor data show.

PBR’s World Finals event at Thomas & Mack Center is the organization’s Super Bowl, now in its 20th year in Las Vegas. The PBR awards $9 million in prize money annually, Haworth said. He expects 65,000 tickets to be sold for the PBR Finals, with the overall circuit winner receiving a $1 million bonus and the event winner drawing a $250,000 payday.

During the PBR fan expo in Las Vegas, the Tyson brand will be seen at cook-offs, while Tyson will sponsor the blogs of PBR wives, Haworth said. Tyson also wants to boost its sales in institutional and food service business, he noted.

PBR is reaching out to elementary schools and parent-teacher associations in hopes of drawing kids to the fan events, Haworth said.

“We do a lot of research in looking for sponsors and Tyson is a good demographic fit with us,” he said.

Scott Becher, a South Florida sports sponsorship expert, agreed.

“Tyson seems like a super fit — tough-guy food for a tough-guy sport,” said Becher, executive vice president and managing director of sports and entertainment at Zimmerman Advertising in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“But the key will be (return on investment) that happens at retail,” Becher said. “Tyson needs to secure more in-store display presence to really make this relationship profitable. Brand fit is fine, but doesn’t mean much unless accompanied by meaningful incremental sales.”

PBR has 26 million fans.

Alan Snel can be contacted at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.