Aspen advertising activism again |

Aspen advertising activism again

Contributed photoThe Aspen Skiing Co. is running ads in the major ski and snowboard publications touting its employees environmental efforts.

ASPEN, Colorado ” The Aspen Skiing Co. will buck the ski industry trend again this year and go with an advertising campaign that touts political activism rather than powder.

The Skico is running ads in the major ski and snowboard publications that show the steps its front-line employees have taken to help preserve the environment. An ad currently running in the September edition of SKI Magazine shows Aspen Highlands ski patroller Tim Lacroix clearing snow off solar panels that help power the patrol headquarters. The ad urges readers to battle climate change and directs them to the Skico’s website.

Another ad touts that the Skico’s Four Mountain Sports shops will use the first all-natural wax, which isn’t harmful to people or the environment. Another ad features the company’s micro-hydro plant at Snowmass.

“It sets us apart from all other advertising out there,” said Matt Hamilton, Skico sustainability manager.

The ads will run late this summer, fall and early winter in SKI, Powder, Freeskier, Transworld Snowboarding, Snowboard and Snowboarder magazines as well as Outside, according to Steve Metcalf, Skico director of brand development. It is the Skico’s sole advertising campaign for the 2008-09 winter, although it is just a portion of the broader winter marketing effort. Metcalf said no other resort is running the same type of ads.

“Snow resort creative [advertising] is typically limited to a ‘blue sky, white snow, big smile, repeat’ formula, whereas our executive team is much more progressive in supporting cause-oriented Aspen/Snowmass campaigns,” Metcalf said.

The Skico campaign accomplishes two goals, he said. It informs an audience that the company is addressing bigger issues, and it differentiates it from some 50 major competitors.

“We are a values-driven company and have a different operating philosophy than every other major resort in North America,” Metcalf said. “The Save Snow campaigns reflect that.”

A separate advertising campaign by the town of Snowmass Village helps create a one-two punch when teamed with the Skico’s effort. Snowmass, which raises funds dedicated for marketing from taxes on sales and lodging, is undertaking a $700,000 winter marketing campaign that features ads that stick closer to the ski industry formula.

A Snowmass ad running in SKI features skier Jamie Britt tackling the Cirque Headwall. She is in a red jacket; the ski is blue; the sun is out; the snow looks powdery. The ad headline says, “What’s Your Vertical?” and the copy touts the variety of terrain at the ski area’s 3,000 acres.

Another ad in the campaign targets adventure skiers and riders. It shows Jay Brown hucking a cornice at Snowmass with a simple but attention-grabbing headline that says, “Into Big Air.”

Susan Hamley, director of marketing, special events and group sales at Snowmass Village, said the town is trying to reach families with children of all ages by showing beautiful images of Snowmass and featuring copy that emphasizes how the big resort offers something for everyone. It is also trying through the “big air” ad to reach skiers and riders who don’t realize the mountain has so much terrain for experts.

The town’s ads are a subtle effort to try to remove Snowmass from Aspen’s shadow.

They establish an identity for Snowmass separate from its upvalley cousin. The audience is urged to call 1-800-SNOWMASS or visit

Aspen only appears as part of the Skico’s Aspen/Snowmass logo with an aspen leaf.

For the Skico, this is the third season of featuring the Save Snow advertisements. There are signs it is working: About 25,000 people have visited the Save Snow website and requested a special sticker package; increasing numbers of Aspen/Snowmass visitors say in surveys that environmental action by the resort is important to them; and the Skico campaign has earned recognition from the advertising and skiing industries.

Metcalf said the campaign hasn’t come close yet to running its course.

“I don’t see Aspen/Snowmass retreating from Save Snow,” he said. “It is a rallying cry of sorts for our staff and knowing that we have an opportunity to not only learn from but influence other resorts’ environmental practices is even more reason to stick with it.”

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