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Partner Content With a Diverse Purpose: Q&A with Matador Founder/CEO Ross Borden

Jordan Kelley, Content Director,

Inspired by people changing the face of sports and outdoor adventure, Matador Network collaborated with Ford and REI on a series about individuals who take the road less traveled…or get off road altogether.

From BIPOC representation in outdoor sports to creating a mobile workspace, this series follows trailblazers who push themselves to reach the next level and share their lessons along the way.

Brand Storytelling caught up with Matador's founder and CEO Ross Borden to learn more about this partnership that promotes not only a love for the outdoors, but works to expand the impression of those who partake in what the outdoors has to offer:

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Ross. How did you come to partner with Ford + REI on this?

We knew we wanted to do something really special and unique for the launch of the iconic Ford Bronco. We've been working with the amazing content + marketing team at REI since 2018, so we've built a lot of trust with them and we wanted to bring them into the fold in a way that would allow us all (Ford, REI, Matador) to collaborate on creative, and pool our respective audiences for media + content distribution.

The resulting program is a multifaceted campaign with two different original video series, a custom podcast - and we're even putting the new Ford Bronco Sport models inside select REIs across the country.

How do Matador’s established values lend credit and credibility to the Ford Bronco?

Matador is a global adventure brand built at the intersection of Travel and Outdoor. Our goal is for people to get out of their comfort zones and go on adventures more often - whether they're weekend road trips or expeditions abroad.

The content we created with REI and Bronco Sport aims to inspire people to venture out and plan new adventures slightly out of their comfort zone. Perhaps more importantly, Matador and REI have shared common values regarding Diversity and Inclusion in travel and the outdoors and we were thrilled to be able to bring new voices and perspectives to this partnership with Bronco Sport via stories of diverse talent and athletes breaking barriers in the outdoor space.

What did production of the series look like on the inside? How collaborative is the production process between Matador, REI and Ford?

For a program with so many moving parts, collaboration has been smooth and painless, and there was a deep level of creative collaboration between Ford (and their agency Mindshare Detroit), REI and Matador. We aligned on talent, video story concepts and distribution, among other things.

What goes into actually selecting the adventures being had?

REI chose to document the planning and execution of a Bronco-supported long distance cycling trip for their part of the video project and the Matador video series was driven by the talent we selected from a cross-section of the 30 Bronco Sport Ambassadors (who each get a free vehicle for a year), most of them up and coming outdoor athletes. Again, we focused on the talent with the most interesting stories and diverse backgrounds.

What was the conversation like about distribution of the final filmed product?

Distribution was very deliberate from the beginning. Matador created a content distribution and media plan that guaranteed Ford a specific number of media impressions and content views across Matador's site and O&O social, REI's site and O&O social, and Matador's strategic partner, Hearst Autos (under which we were able to leverage Hearst's rich 1st and 3rd party data and targeting, elements of which had already been proven to perform for other Ford models). Total guaranteed impressions for the campaign are around 100M, but given the performance so far, we expect total impressions to be much higher.

What is Matador’s main goal in the production of various adventure series?

Our goal with all branded content is simple: find and document stories that our audience will be interested in watching till the end, regardless of brand involvement - and then seamlessly integrate the brands and products that we work with into those stories in an authentic way, whereby the user sees how our brand partner empowers them to live a more adventurous life, and sees themselves in the content.

What can viewers who enjoyed Adventure Unbound watch next from Matador?

Our digital creator program with Samsung! (which is now evolved into branded show on HULU called "Exposure", with Cole Walliser) And our Beyondland Road Trip with Airstream, YETI, and many other exciting brand partners, now embarking in its second year on the road!


About Ross Borden

Ross Borden is the Founder and CEO of

Borden started the travel lifestyle brand in 2006 with $11,000 and has grown it into one of the largest travel websites on the Internet. Today, Matador’s team of 50+ creates content and videos that attract over 8 million people/month on their flagship website and generate over 100M video views/month on social media.

Matador's mission is to redefine travel media with original shows and docs, cutting-edge adventure stories, and global social commentary - that informs, entertains and ultimately inspires people to travel more.


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