Knowing that the average picture is worth a thousand words and the average picture of Whistler is worth 10,000 words, Tourism Whistler is rolling out its winter promotion using both snapshots and hotshots — and pairing them with the stories behind the images.
This means the highly successful #whistlerunfiltered campaign, which saw visitors share 25,000 images of their play and après at the resort on Instagram, will continue, but these photos will be garnished by a collection of high-quality shots taken by Whistler's top professionals. Both types are connected on the website in a seamless way.
The campaign is introducing the Pro's Lens and the People's Lens.
"Whistler Unfiltered exceeded all our expectations in terms of the photo and hashtag and the engagement. It was really easy to recognize the brand and people liked to see themselves in the moment," explained Louise Walker, Tourism Whistler's vice president of marketing strategy.
"If there was one learning experience from (last winter's #whistlerunfiltered campaign), we kind of lost some of those iconic photos in that we had really good images of people having fun in Whistler, but those big, high-quality professional images of Black Tusk (from the peak of Whistler Mountain), let's say, (weren't part of it)... We're just making sure that we capture the things that are iconic to Whistler."
Walker said 86 per cent of Whistler guests share images and content with friends and family even while they are still in the resort, being Whistler's ambassadors to potentially millions of others. These are stories that deserve to be told, she said.
When it comes to the Pro's Lens, Kirsten Homeniuk, the senior manager for advertising programs, said professional photographers know how to use their skills to show the resort off.
"The Whistler Unfiltered user-generated submissions have completely blown our minds in terms of the number of people participating and tagging, and the professional images create a second level of content," said Homeniuk, a key member of the creative team behind the campaign.
Homeniuk said they were still encouraging visitors and locals to load up and share on the #whistlerunfiltered microsite set up last year, but added that local writer (and Pique contributor) Feet Banks was reaching out to the downloaders to find out the stories behind the pictures. These stories can be seen behindthelens.whistler.com.
Control being handed to the users in the #whistlerunfiltered campaign has been important, Walker added, and professionals ensure the key messages of what the resort offers will be captured.
Tourism Whistler began the shift from tourism bureau-created content to customer-generated content through the 18 professional videos featured in the Whistler Sabbatical Project campaign two winter seasons ago, and then incorporated customer-generated photography into #whistlerunfiltered in last winter's and summer's campaigns. For this upcoming winter, it then reached out to pro photographers, asking them to send in their favourite photos of Whistler.
Blake Jorgenson, the award-winning owner of the Blake Jorgenson Gallery in Whistler, curated the 12 iconic shots by Pro's Lens photographers Mattias Fredricksson, Robin O'Neill, Paul Morrison, David McColm, Mike Helfrich, Jussi Grznar, Jordan Manley, Steve Simon and himself.
They, too, are sharing their stories and videos on the Behind the Lens website, in concert with consumer-posted images and comments.
Leading from the last two seasons of innovative campaigns, pitched by creative agency Origin Design, Tourism Whistler is now up for two awards from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada. The organization is a finalist for Marketing Campaign of the Year for The Whistler Sabbatical Project (winter 2012) and Social Media Initiative of the Year for #whistlerunfiltered (winter 2013).
"We knew we were taking some big risks when we first launched The Whistler Sabbatical Project," said Barrett Fisher, Tourism Whistler's Presidentm and CEO, who was also filling in as Acting VP of Marketing in 2011-12.
"But if we wanted to maintain our position as a resort leader, we also knew that we needed to let go of the reins, and move the power of our communications into the hands of our customers. Whistler Unfiltered was then a natural extension of that."
The winners will be announced in Ottawa on Dec. 3.