SkiCo’s marketing campaign focuses on what was and is

by Carolyn Sackariason, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

The Aspen Skiing Co.’s roll-out of its print advertising campaign for the 2011-12 season aims to capture a feeling of what the resort/community embraces and thus sets it apart from the rest.

The new concept, which was developed in the past couple of weeks by Christian Knapp, SkiCo’s new vice president of marketing, harkens back to the Aspen Idea, when visionaries Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke helped create a resort community that centered around mind, body and spirit.

The ads reflect what Aspen/Snowmass was before it was a ski town — full of history, culture, recreational opportunities and community. It’s an original. It’s an amazing playground, Knapp offered.

One ad reads in bold print: “Before Aspen, mountain was never cosmopolitan.” In smaller print below, a statement reads: “Very few places will you find ski bums sharing cocktails with jet setters. The heart of a city. The soul of a mountain town. This is Aspen/Snowmass.” The copy is laid out over large-scale imagery of people walking on the Cooper Avenue mall at Galena Street at night.

“It’s not the typical bluebird image, it’s more artistic,” Knapp said.

An ad for Snowmass shows a colorful photo of a little girl with bold print that reads: “Before Snowmass, happily ever after only happened in fairy tales.”

A third ad touts: “Before Aspen, winter was just cold.” The copy is laid over a skier making turns in gladed trees.

“[The campaign] puts a line in the sand that we are an innovator and different,” said Knapp, who has been on the job for a month and comes from Vail Resorts as Keystone’s top marketing guru. “What differentiates us from the others? What is the Aspen lifestyle?”

While the print ads are awaiting final approval, the SkiCo has bought space in the following publications: Outside magazine, Snow magazine, Mountain Sports + Living magazine, Transworld magazine and Freeskier magazine. The ads will run from October through February, Knapp said.

 Image courtesy of Aspen Skiing Co.
Aspen Skiing Co.’s new marketing campaign focuses on what Aspen/Snowmass was before it was a ski town — a place full of history, culture, recreational opportunities and community. The new concept was developed in recent weeks by the new SkiCo vice president of marketing, Christian Knapp.

The advertising print campaign is just one aspect in the SkiCo’s vast marketing plan for the upcoming season. While the print buy has been scaled back, there will be a ramp-up in utilizing the digital world, through online advertising and search engine management, Knapp said.

He added that in the digital world, SkiCo can more easily get in front of a targeted, captive audience, and the results are trackable.

SkiCo is heavily invested in social media such as YouTube, Twitter and Foursquare, a location-based social networking website for mobile devices.

SkiCo’s presence on Facebook and the number of its followers need improvement, Knapp said, adding that it’s a focus this year, as is overhauling the website. It’s currently being rebuilt and is expected to be launched in February, Knapp said.

Billboards focused on SkiCo’s Classic Pass, which offers four- and seven-day passes, will pop up on the Front Range, attempting to reel in weekend warriors who normally hit resorts along the I-70 corridor.

“The Classic Pass is an add-on” for Front Range residents, Knapp said.

Public relations efforts internationally are happening now — SkiCo is pitching journalists to come here and write about their experience.

“PR is a huge part of the job,” he said. “This is the time of the year to make the pitches.”

And SkiCo is working with local resort and government officials in their commitment to collectively provide tens of thousands of dollars in marketing efforts to American Airlines, which will enter the Aspen market for the first time this December, offering flights daily to and from Los Angeles and Dallas.

Those destinations open up the potential for more international tourists, Knapp noted. Key international markets for SkiCo are Brazil, Europe and Australia. He declined to reveal where marketing efforts are being made overseas, citing it’s proprietary. In other words, SkiCo does not want to tip off its competitors.

When all the efforts are combined, Knapp said SkiCo will succeed in getting its message and its product out there for the world to see.

“In marketing, there is no silver bullet,” he said “There is a lot to it.”