Coca-Cola is still ‘it’ for Aspen Skiing Co. |

Coca-Cola is still ‘it’ for Aspen Skiing Co.

ASPEN – Coca-Cola products will continue to be the only soft drinks available at Aspen Skiing Co. restaurants, Bud Light will continue to promote concerts and other special events, and Natural Valley will still occasionally hand out granola bars to mountain-bound skiers.

The Skico has retained all its major partners for this winter despite the tough economic times, according to John Rigney, vice president of sales and events.

“Our support is as strong or stronger than it has ever been,” he said.

The Skico doesn’t disclose its exact relationship with what it calls its “resort partners.” In general, the Skico may get funds, products and marketing support from the relationships. In return, the partners can get exclusive rights to sell products or exposure at major events.

One of the most obvious deals is with Coca-Cola. The soft drink maker has an exclusive deal to provide its products at Skico’s restaurants and other properties at the expense of Pepsi and other competitors.

Bud Light is the title sponsor of the Hi-Fi Concert Series, Big Air Fridays and Spring Jam. Liquor laws don’t allow the Skico to sell Bud Light exclusively at its properties, but it can promote the brew with banners and discounts.

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A less obvious partnership is with Audi. The “official vehicle of Aspen-Snowmass” provides an undisclosed number of “clean diesel” cars for Skico executives to drive. In return, well-heeled guests at The Little Nell hotel, Residences at The Little Nell and the Snowmass Club are given the opportunities to test drive Audi models.

Rigney said some of the contracts with partners expired at the end of 2008 or will end at the end of this year. He didn’t specify which ones. In every case, new deals were signed. The oldest relationships are with American Express, Sprint and Anheuser-Busch.

In addition, the Skico has some smaller sponsorship deals with local companies to help defray expenses for the Winternational event later this month. Those sponsorship have been more sensitive to the recession.

“We’re going to be OK. Have there been better years? Absolutely,” Rigney said.

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