Aspen Highlands sets the Benchmark for commercial shoot with ski patrollers |

Aspen Highlands sets the Benchmark for commercial shoot with ski patrollers

Benchmade photo shoot in January at Aspen Highlands with ski patrollers.
Benchmade Knife Co./Courtesy photo

Benchmade Knife Co. isn’t made or headquartered in Aspen, but it sure as heck wants to associate its brand with some of the most elite and experienced ski patrollers in the nation at Aspen Highlands.

That’s why they chose Aspen Highlands for their latest media campaign. 

“We spent two disparate days on the mountain with two team members from the Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol,” said Benchmade Vice President of Marketing Joe Prebich. “One day was the gnarliest winter storm of this season, and the next day — true to Aspen’s mercurial weather patterns — was a pristine bluebird day.”

Prebich, a former editor at Snowboard Magazine, understands the power of brand building via storytelling. He was Shawn White’s brand manager at Red Bull and worked with Swedish lifestyle company Fjällräven, Maui Jim Sunglasses, and other global brands. 

He said he fell in love with brands anchored in craft and joined the Benchmade team three years ago. Today, it’s the largest American-made knife company. 

Benchmade Knife Co. chose Aspen Highlands because the women and men at Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol are “the best in the business,” according to the company’s vice president of marketing.
Benchmade Knife Co./Courtesy photo

The company is based in the shadows of Mount Hood, and one might assume the rugged Oregon terrain would provide the ideal backdrop. Not for Prebich and the team. They considered other resort terrain with elite ski patrollers in Jackson Hole, Telluride, Palisades and Mount Baker. 

However, they chose Aspen Highlands because the women and men at Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol are “the best in the business,” according to Prebich.

Benchmade Knife Co. isn’t the only company to see as Aspen as iconic, professional and a place to burnish an image. 

Tyler Lindsay is an event and marketing manager for Aspen Skiing Co. and has worked with on-mountain commercial productions at Aspen Snowmass for eight years. 

“I start with the location agreement up through the actual shoot,” said Lindsay. 

“We will have 10 to 15 requests a year for various campaigns, everything from something like Benchmade that involved our ski patrol to fashion catalogues,” he said. “We have various content and event projects with our sponsored athletes and through partners like Red Bull, Audi or Helly Hansen.”

The first stop for brands is to get a commercial photography permit from the White River National Forest. Then Lindsay becomes the liaison to make sure everything on-mountain is in compliance with the U.S. Forest Service. 

Gloves of an Aspen Highlands ski patroller during a commercial shoot.
Benchmade Knife Co./Courtesy photo

“I also want to make sure we are not compromising any of the guests’ experience on the mountain while making sure the production achieves their goals,” Lindsay said.

The guest experience was exactly what Prebich was after. 

“Patrollers are quietly humble,” he said. “However, they carry the tools that you and I know are needed for their work.”

Prebich spent his childhood in northern Minnesota hunting and fishing, but the outdoor enthusiast said he was not a diehard knife guy. But his passion for the wilderness transformed his understanding for the bigger story at Benchmade Knife Co. 

“Whether it’s in the backcountry, hiking the Bowl or sitting by a campfire on the Oregon beach, our tool has to perform at that very moment, and for a very specific purpose,” said Prebich.

“We are deeply ingrained in the military and federal government,” he said. “They need a tool to save lives, just as the ski patrol need their tools to save lives. The knife encompasses all their work.”

Through Lindsay’s coordination, a woman and a man were chosen from the Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol for the media campaign.

The commercial showed preparedness and dedication to the profession. Its first airing will be next fall during a Monday Night Football game, when America gravitates to wintery, snowy subjects.

“It’s a great way to talk to people. Culturally, how do you build a community? Watching a football game and talking about where you want to go skiing with friends is community,” said Prebich.

Filming during a commercial shoot in January.
Benchmade Knife Co./Courtesy photo

Lindsay and the patrollers at Aspen Highlands naturally did the brand justice, Prebich said.

“These are the experts. This is our model for telling the stories. We don’t need to fluff it up,” he said. “This is what our tool does and needs to do.”