With the X Games now in their 12th year in Aspen, new brands continue to employ the event as an opportunity to market products and establish a following among youngsters.
Marley’s Mellow Mood, for instance, a beverage company born in 2011 and known as an anti-energy drink, established a pop-up nightclub in Aspen during the X Games.
Dubbed the “Marley safehouse,” the club serves as a place where athletes and industry people can go to relax, listen to live music and party without being at risk of attracting media attention.
Once a small start-up, the company now sells its product to more than 80,000 retailers across the country, said Jason Panton, marketing manager for the firm.
Kevin McClafferty, CEO of Marley Beverage Co., spoke last year at the annual Bevnet conference on its successful marketing techniques. And the business has plans to leverage its connection to music to launch a national campaign that would support new music acts, Panton said.
“We’re growing at a rocket pace,” he said.
When the company originally formed, it used social media and grassroots efforts — including the Aspen ‘safehouse’ concept — to sell the product in seaside bodegas and convenience stores, Panton said.
As the brand grew, the size of the Marley ‘safehouse’ grew, too, becoming larger to accommodate more people and bigger acts coming through during the X Games.
This year, Marley’s Mellow Mood rented the 6,000-square-foot Crystal Palace in Aspen. Reggae and hip-hop artist Matisyahu performed Saturday night, and Bob Marley’s son, Ky-Mani, is playing tonight.
Having a presence in Aspen during the X Games has been an essential part of its success, Panton said. There is a connection between ski and snowboard culture and the brand’s Rastafarian philosophy.
“Our proposition is that relaxation is a good thing,” Panton said. “Energy has its place, but really the world needs a little less energy and more relaxation, meditation and consciousness. It sounds slightly altruistic, but I think that it rings true the same way that [Bob Marley’s] words ring true.”
One of the company’s original employees suggested that the brand create the safehouse in Aspen, but it was a hard sell, Panton said.
“If you’re not here, and you don’t feel the vibe and you don’t know the community, you wouldn’t think Marley and Aspen [go together],” he said. “You think Miami Beach, but … we all got behind it as a company, and we’ve seen the love that we get.”
The reality is that Marley Beverage Co. will never make the majority of its money in the Rocky Mountains. But having a presence at the X Games creates brand awareness that ripples out into college communities and to other like-minded people, Panton said.
Ky-Mani said that he has seen a connection between his fans and X Games viewers, which is why it makes sense for him to perform this weekend. Personally, he has always wanted to play during the X Games, Ky-Mani added.
Meanwhile, Eric Fletcher, owner of another start-up called Fallen Trees Silent Production, is hoping that his presence at the X Games will boost business.
His company sets up dance parties called silent discos in which partygoers listen to music played by a DJ through headphones that are distributed. The idea is that people can either choose to listen to the music and dance wearing the headphones, or opt out and have a conversation with other partiers, Fletcher said.
Fletcher said he attended a silent disco in Las Vegas in 2007, but hadn’t heard of one since. So last May he decided to start his own company.
Fletcher has had steady success, but his goal was to host a silent disco in Aspen during the X Games. Whether it’s marketing, fashion or beverage drinks, the event has become a trend setter, he said.
“X Games is just electric,” Fletcher said. “The whole weekend, it’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of play.”