Most ski and snowboard publications released their gear guides this past month, officially kicking off the advertising season for the industry.
Whistler-Blackcomb has jumped in early with ads in most major ski magazines and a handful of snowboard magazines, while Tourism Whistler started its activities in Australia last month and is preparing to launch at targeted markets around the world in the coming months.
The message is mixed this year. There’s the usual bigger is better message, with references to Whistler’s size, views and second best snow season on record last year; but they also followed up with a value message that promotes early booking discounts and packages.
According to Stuart Rempel, senior vice-president of marketing and sales for Whistler-Blackcomb, the company is following a multi-part strategy this year.
“One part is to continue to focus on what differentiates us from other resorts, the kind of iconic brand advertising that pushes the incredible views and incredible mountains we have here — the size of the place and what that offers in terms of variety,” he said. “We’re really pushing on creating the dream… that people really have to come to this place. That will create the demand, and to fulfill the demand we also have a set of tactical ads at the back of ski magazines where we push the value message with great offers and great packages.”
According to Rempel there is also a third ad campaign in Ski magazine that shows off the new Symphony Express chair and newly dubbed Symphony Amphitheatre area.
“It opened last year, but to a lot of people out there it’s still news,” explained Rempel. “We made a $9.2 million investment in the lift, and for the majority of skiers in North America it’s still a new product that needs to be experienced. It’s also good to get the message out that we’re still growing and evolving, and that skiing here is a different experience today than it was the last time people may have come here.”
The campaign for snowboarders is also different than it is for skiers. In the upcoming Transworld Snowboarding, Whistler-Blackcomb has booked a double-page spread that features Leanne Pelosi and some pictures that she has taken.
“Magazines like Ski and Powder are for an older demographic, but they are still keen skiers, and still aficionados of the sport. Other magazines like Transworld and Freeskier have a younger demographic, as well as various snowboard publications, and we have different strategies for those publications,” said Rempel.
The youth strategy for this year is to direct readers to a website in development called Untrackedlines.com. According to Rempel, the site is an extension of Whistler-Blackcomb’s If Ullr Was a Girl contest, and will be populated by user-generated content that features Whistler-Blackcomb and members of their pro team. The pro team includes skiers like Dan Treadway, Ian McIntosh, Mark Abma and Sarah Burke, and snowboarders like Justin Lamoureux and Leanne Pelosi.