In a case of art imitating life, Walmart stores are featuring a pallet display of paperback books featuring a fictional cowboy who competes in the real world Professional Bull Riders organization led by a former Walmart executive.
The novel The Longest Ride made the New York Time best-seller list last year and for its release in paperback this year Walmart and the Professional Bull Riders association worked with author Nicholas Spark’s publisher on an innovative promotion to create a PBR-branded exclusive. A contest was created that allowed fans to vote for the PBR bull rider they thought was the sexiest cowboy and should appear on the Walmart exclusive paperback cover. The winner was Jory Markiss so he received the distinction of being on the cover but he and the other riders also appeared in a calendar. In addition, a Nicholas Sparks/PBR-branded pallet showcasing “The Longest Ride” was dropped in close to 2,000 Walmart stores along with other editions of Sparks’ novels and movies through June 6.
"“It is beyond an honor to be associated with such a world-renowned author,”" said Jim Haworth, PBR chairman and CEO. "“This is a rare and very welcome opportunity to bring the PBR to a new demographic segment and also reach loyal PBR fans with (Nicholas Spark’s) compelling story."
Haworth’s name is familiar to many at Walmart. He spent nearly two decades at the company in a variety of operations roles. He served as COO of Walmart’s U.S. stores division when he left the company in 2004.