Global warming campaign a bold step for Aspen Skiing Co.

Who can help but dream of a week at Jackson Hole or Heavenly after spotting a glossy magazine advertisement featuring some gorgeous model in a bright outfit slicing through an uncut field of powder under blue skies? The different resorts might have ads that all look the same, but they sure are juicy.That’s what is so intriguing about the Aspen Skiing Co.’s decision to launch an advertising campaign that focuses the attention of readers away from studs, babes and powder, and toward the sober issue of climate change. The company announced last week that it plans to run three different ads in Outside and Ski that will deliver a message “consistent with this community’s intense concern with global warming.”That’s a gutsy move from a marketing perspective. After all, it’s difficult to get people who are itching for a week in the Rockies, whether a 13-year-old boy or a 45-year-old mother or a 70-year-old grandfather, to stop thinking about powder and blue skies for a minute and think about one of the most politically loaded issues of our day.The Skico has long made it a priority to be at the forefront of corporate responsibility when it comes to global warming. The ski industry’s bottom line literally depends on a reversal of the current rise in global temperatures, which is beginning to melt glaciers in the mountains and alter the ecology of the jungles. One climate model the city of Aspen’s Canary Initiative recently released predicted little or no winter snowpack on Aspen Mountain by the year 2100. By giving up images of wavy-haired models taking face shots under blue skies in favor of an informative but less sexy advertisement that informs people about global warming (and hopefully suggests what they can do to reduce their environmental footprint), the Aspen Skiing Co. is giving up short-term profit for long-term good of the environment and the industry. No doubt scores of readers of Ski and Outside will flip right past the Skico ads, but a good number will look at them and hopefully make personal choices that are good for the environment.The Skico has once again raised the bar on the question of climate change and how corporations should respond. The company deserves credit. Hopefully, businesses inside and outside the ski industry will take note and make global warming a centerpiece issue in their corporate strategies.