For the third year, the highly-successful Professional Bullriders circuit is coming to Springfield's JQH Arena Friday-Sunday with 40 of the top bullriders in the world competing. But if you're looking for a local rooting interest, you might want to look to a competitor who's not human. His name is "Boot Daddy". One of the biggest, baddest bulls on the PBR circuit with only 5 of 13 riders able to stay on him for the full 8-seconds. And he's known to be a bit mean.
"You can definitely get within 10 feet of him and realize his personality," says PBR rider Cord McCoy, an Ada, Oklahoma product who's also appeared on the TV show "Amazing Race".
But Boot Daddy also has his softer side. Owned by PFI Western Wear owner Randy Little, who also sponsors the PBR's event in Springfield, Boot Daddy has turned out to be a marketer's dream. The bull has his own line of boots, clothing, belt buckles, Orange Crush cans with his face on it, a Ford truck named after him that will be given away to a fan in February, and even his own fragrance. That's right. A men's cologne. And as Little points out, "it doesn't smell like a bull. When we rolled out all these products, the reaction has been very, very, overwealming. I anticipated it being good, but I didn't think it would be as good as it is."
While part of that appeal is certainly the quality of the products, the fact is that the PBR's great popularity is in no small part due to the "bull market".
"There are people that follow the bulls as intently as they do the riders," Little explains.
"If you looked at our facebook page last year at this same time we had 25,000 followers," adds Jim Haworth, the CEO of the PBR. "Right now we've got 240,000 followers and some of our best following is around the bulls. They have their own facebook page, their own twitter accounts. It's hard. They have to get a little bigger computer laptop so they can hit the 'send' button."
O.K. So maybe Boot Daddy can't actually tweet. But he definitely is a marketing icon.
And that's no bull.