Top billing |

Top billing

Wren Wertin

Today marks the first day of Vail’s summer-long campaign for cultural visitors in New York and Dallas.

A massive billboard in New York’s Times Square, plus two large freeway billboards in Dallas will be on display through July 18. Total cost for the three billboards is $35,000, and PRIMA is picking up the tab.

PRIMA is a new marketing effort motivated by staff of three Vail festivals: Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Beaver Creek Theatre Festival and Vail International Dance Festival. The goal is simple – to boost tourism in the Vail Valley throughout the summer. In addition to the triumvirate, other cultural events will be highlighted, including the Labor Day Jazz Festival and Hot Summer Nights.

“We took the name PRIMA to show we’re first class,” said Katie Campbell, PRIMA’S marketing manager. “And what’s being brought to Vail in the summer is the best, like the New York Philharmonic, (which is coming for Bravo!).”

“This is probably the most exciting campaign that Vail has launched in quite some time,” said Beth Slifer, president of the Vail Local Marketing District Board. “The fact that our billboard will be shown in Times Square for two months is a windfall for our summer marketing campaign.”

Colorado may be ranked 50 in per capita government-funded spending on the arts, but local musical and performing arts organizations know that people are willing to travel for the arts.

“With cultural tourism on the rise,” explained Kelli McDonald, director of special events for the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, “we feel PRIMA is a great way to bring some of those tourists here to Vail to experience the world’s best music, dance and theater in the natural splendor of the Rocky Mountains, a combination found only in Vail.”

The 70-foot Times Square billboards show a slice of Vail – specifically, the Ford Amphitheater filled with visitors, with the Gore Range in the background. Additionally, a guerilla postering effort will be made in New York’s Upper East and West sides, in addition to Midtown’s buildings and scaffoldings. The 1,500 posters will look like the billboards.

“Sitting in rush hour traffic is a drag,” said Campbell. “On a Friday afternoon in 100-plus degree heat, the cool, beautiful setting of the Rocky Mountains is awfully tempting.”

There are festivals all over the world, which is why PRIMA intends to capitalize on the natural assets of the Vail Valley, in addition to the high-end cultural acts.

Campbell estimates more than 1 million people will see the New York billboard daily. She estimates about 100,000 will see the freeway billboards in Dallas daily, as gridlock sets in for the morning and afternoon drives.

“We have such a huge market in Dallas,” said Campbell. “When the Dallas Symphony Orchestra came for Bravo!, people followed them. They even bought homes here.”

As Campbell pointed out, Vail’s not too far away to drive from Texas – but flying’s better. Coincidentally, American Airlines has been advertising direct flights from Dallas to Vail in lifestyle magazines in the West. It seems more than locals anticipate high tourist traffic between the two Texas and Vail.

In addition to the billboards and posters, 10 bus shelters in the Denver metro area will show the ad, including shelters at Park Meadows and Cherry Creek malls. PRIMA’s brochure will be distributed throughout the Front Range as well, including locations along the 16th Street Mall and Denver International Airport.

“If this is a success, we’ll branch into Chicago and Atlanta,” said Campbell.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.

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