Aspen Skiing Co. unveils unusual ad campaign promoting ‘The Aspen Way’

Aspen Skiing Co. launched a new print and video advertising campaign Thursday that the vice president of marketing said is the most exciting of his career but acknowledged won’t be universally loved.

The campaign is built around the theme “The Aspen Way” and promotes the company’s values, principles and ideas, Skico’s Christian Knapp told a few hundred people attending an annual Aspen Chamber Resort Association preseason mixer. The event, the Afternoon Blend, was held at the Sundeck.

The ads and video will feature four oversized, 3-D words placed at various locations on the slopes of the four local ski areas. The four words are Love, Respect, Unity and Commit. Each ad and video builds off of one of the four words.

Knapp said the campaign is designed to get people involved in the debate on major issues of the day and engage in dialogue, even if they disagree with Skico’s view.

“We know there will be some criticism of this campaign. We know it’s not going to appeal to every person. That’s OK,” Knapp said. “We want to take a stand and feel the time is right to do that.”

The campaign was inspired by an opinion piece by Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan that ran in local newspapers and on Skico’s website on Dec. 27 — during the busiest week of the year in Aspen.

That piece, titled “We’re Still Here,” talked about how major parts of then President-elect Donald Trump’s platform were at odds with Skico’s core values. Kaplan vowed that Skico would continue to work on climate issues, gay rights and immigrant rights and would welcome people of all ethnicities, genders, races and religions.

Knapp said Kaplan’s opinion piece inspired Skico’s outside ad agency, Karsh Hagan of Denver, to develop the 2017-18 campaign around similar ideals. Skico officials were all over it.

“We knew we wanted a campaign and a branding position that was going to differentiate Aspen from the others, wasn’t going to be like everybody else because this place isn’t like everywhere else,” Knapp said.

The campaign helps tell the world “what’s cool about this place,” he said.

The ad oriented around the word “Love” features an eye-catching photo of the letters hanging off the Silver Queen Gondola chairlift cables on Aspen Mountain. The copy reads, “No one chooses love. It finds you. Aspen fell for Gay Ski Week in the 1970s. We only regret not finding each other sooner. The only question is how we open our hearts even bigger. Not just to people, but to the whole world around us. Love — it’s #TheAspenWay.”

The ad featuring the word “Unity” shows a ski rack housing various skis and snowboarders as a symbol of diversity. “The mountains don’t discriminate, and neither do we,” the ad says. “Neither should anyone. We’re better together. On the mountain, at work, as a nation, as members of the human race. Unity — it’s #TheAspenWay.”

The print ads will start appearing in October editions of ski and outdoor magazines. They aim to drive traffic to the Aspen-Snowmass website, which will feature 15- and 30-second videos built around the same themes.

“The videos are what really is going to bring this to life,” Knapp said.

Skico has a record of running ads that differentiate it from other resorts. It rarely relies on the standard blue sky, white powder, beautiful people formula. The reception in Aspen has been mixed over the decades.


Bar Talk: Barraquito

On a recent trip to Spain, I discovered something that I believe tops the espresso martini. It’s called a barraquito.

See more