April 26, 2012

SAM’s Best/Worst Marketing of 2011-2012


Crested Butte and Okemo win “Close But No Cigar” Awards.

Ski Area Management’s (SAM) Best/Worst Marketing of 2011-2012 came out.  You can read the full article here.  You might not have even heard of SAM if you aren’t involved in actual resort operations or in ski industry marketing, but due to the wonderful tool that is social media, now us “layskiers” can get some insight into the behind-the-scenes action of resort marketing.

The article highlighted 6 areas of marketing that resorts use: Video, Email, Social Media, Facebook (got its own category), Miscellany, and Print.  As examples, Best Viral Video was given to Whistler Blackcomb for its hilarious: “Shit Skiers Say”.  On the other hand, Snowbasin was given Worst Viral Video after a snowboarder with a GoPro caught a ski patroller saying “Shut your F***ing Mouth”.  We put both videos below for your viewing pleasure:


“Shit Skiers Say” has 1,278,090 hits as of this afternoon, while the video posted by snowboarders at Snowbasin has only 2,780 (due to its length and unfinished plays) but caused an uproar on Snowbasin’s Facebook page calling for the patroller’s and ski instructor’s firing.  Obviously Snowbasin can’t control that kind of thing being posted on the internet, but they can control a ski patroller’s mouth and ability to deal with paying customers.

Other highlights of the article worth checking include Best/Worst Cover Page, Best Branding, and Worst Facebook Timeline spoofs, which are all interesting in their own right.  If you want to get jealous Telluride won Best Summer Promotion for their Facebook page and Best Ad-Market Research, while Aspen won Best Branding in Print.  Axe, that’s right, the cologne/perfume company, won the “I Can’t Believe No One has Done this Before” Award for putting up “Please feed the bra-tree” signs under a Bra tree at a resort in Alberta.  CBMR might be too family-friendly for that, but props to AXE and Mt. Norquay for being hilarious.

What is Butteness? One of CBMR's full page ads featured in various ski magazines this year. Photo:

Now the good part!  Crested Butte won “Close But No Cigar” for Mountain Mood West in Print.  As an employee at CBMR I was lucky enough to be educated on Crested Butte’s 2012 Marketing campaign, “Butteness”, in our Orientation back in December.  I found myself laughing when I heard there would be billboard trucks in the I-70 gridlock telling people to skip the traffic for Crested Butte instead.  I think the name of the “Close but No Cigar” award itself means that CBMR marketing must not be too far off and is doing a good job.  Here is what SAM had to say:
“I really wanted to like the “Butteness” campaign. CB retains a raw-edged, end-of-the-road vibe. It’s rugged and authentic in a way that Vail, and even present-day Aspen, can only dream of. Butteness promises to tell us what that old-west spirit is all about. But the copy writers don’t know themselves. Perhaps it is “hard to define,” as the ad says. But try, at least. You could have asked a bunch of the hardcore ski-bums who work in town. Sort of like Telluride did.”
Eeesh…  “Sort of like Telluride” leaves a sour taste in any proud Crested Buttian’s mouth. However, SAM’s writers do touch on a point here.  What does “Butteness” really mean?  Nobody who lives here uses that word on any sort of a regular basis.  Overall, I thought the series of ads I was shown back in December showed what Crested Butte was about with awesome photos but didn’t really package it together with the writing accompanying the photos.    I recently heard that when you make up a word, you get to give it a definition.  Try and define “Butteness”.  We’ll see how they do next year.  Maybe they should put a photo of a truck with a Crested Butte ad sitting in I-70 traffic on a truck sitting in I-70 traffic to really drive the point home.

As if SAM really wanted to stick it to the Mueller’s and Triple Peaks, Okemo, Crested Butte’s sister resort in Vermont won the East coast version of the same award.  They said:
“Okemo aimed to capture the spirit of Alpine skiing, as former Killington marketing guru Foster Chandler used to call it. Images of a top lift terminal, with the Green Mountains rolling away into the early-morning sun, were extremely inviting. But the copy, “All come home,” doesn’t quite capture the feeling visiting urbanites have at that sight. It’s more a feeling of “escape the ratrace.” The ratrace is home. Okemo is the escape.”
Another near-miss!  Darn.  It seems like Triple Peaks is on the right track, but really needs to focus in on what their advertising is getting at if they want to effectively spend the necessary money on marketing.  When it comes down it, we are cheering for CBMR and the Mueller’s to do the right thing and do it well; we want people to visit us as much as they do.  Well, for the most part.

About the Author

2. Will Dujardin
Will Dujardin is our content editor at West Elk Project. He competes in big mountain competitions and coaches the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team. Skiing is his life and he likes to mix it with other fun things like DH mountain biking and traveling.