Sean Beckwith: Dissecting the ‘Aspen Way’
October 10, 2017
What's in a slogan? Nike's "Just Do It" mantra is supposed to be motivating from a workout standpoint, but "Just Do It" sounds like what people say to friends to get them to do some really dumb stuff.
"Wouldn't it be funny if I snorted this wasabi?"
"Yeah, Greg, it would. So, just do it."
McDonald's "I'm Loving It" phrase has only been murmured by small children and stoned teenagers. Halfway through any bag of Whack Arnold's and the opposite of how I feel about myself is love. It should be, "McDonald's: Why did I order that third McChicken?"
Punching the "Can You Hear Me Now?" guy from Verizon is still a dream of mine even though he's currently shucking for Sprint. I'm coming for you, Paul Marcarelli.
A good marketing campaign should be based in some kind of truth. "It's so good, cats ask for it by name" is pure genius from Meow Mix because cats can only meow so they are saying meow even if they've already ate or pissed in your bed.
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Aspen Skiing Co.'s season slogan this year is "Love, Unity, Respect and Commit, it's the Aspen Way." Let's break this down and take a look at how accurate each of those values is.
This one is pretty spot on. Gay Ski Week has been a staple of Aspen for decades, and definitely long before other resorts adopted it as a marketing campaign. Perks are pretty good for family members of Skico employees, including insurance, season passes and little shredder ski options, among other things.
However, what kind of love are we talking about? Good, wholesome roasted chicken and mashed potatoes family-style love or "I just met you, you're on vacation, I'm on vacation let's make out on the bus" love? It's a fair question because I've seen a lot more of the latter than the former.
"The mountains don't discriminate. Neither do we." That's taken straight off the website. Aspen is amazingly inclusive. It doesn't matter if you're gay, straight, overweight, white, black, Brazilian or Australian, you're welcome in Aspen … as long as you have wads of cash.
For $169 a day during peak season you can ski as much as you want, and don't forget if you're coming out for Christmas, Skico's most affordable hotel, The Limelight, has rooms for $810 a night. I pay less than that a month for rent.
You want inclusiveness?
How about taking a page out of Arthur Blank's playbook and making on-mountain dining a little more affordable. Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, requires all food sales at his new stadium be affordable regardless of the event. A $2 hot dog and $5 beer would be a godsend on the mountain.
How about during a week in January or February, when it's relatively slow, you offer crazy discounts for family and friends of year-round locals? I'm not saying open it free-for-all status like employee pool day at Bushwood, I'm suggesting making it easier for those of us who have friends who don't come here by private jet.
I get four half-off passes with my ski pass and I have to ration them out like roses on "The Bachelor." Jeff, Lisa, Aaron and Zach, you have made the cut. I'm sorry, Dave, I just can't give you half off a lift ticket when I know you'll be in the lodge drinking hot chocolate before noon.
Skico and resorts elsewhere have taken up the climate change cause. I totally agree with their stance. I think it's absolutely crucial not only to the ski industry but to the planet as a whole. I'm not going to expand too much on this because I'm not Al Gore, and I don't want all you #MAGA fans emailing me climate-change conspiracy theories from Dr. Nick Riviera.
It is kind of interesting, though, that we must respect our planet while also building zip-lines, mountain bike trails and alpine coasters on Snowmass and blasting snow guns that use up insane amounts of water.
Commit is interesting coming from a company that thrives on seasonal employees and temporary housing. Club Commons in Snowmass has all the traits of a dormitory because people don't look at it like the nice apartment complex it could be. If they opened up Club Commons to long-term rentals, regardless of if you work for Skico, it would fill up immediately.
Also, just a bone to pick with the wording in the slogan. Commit to "dropping into a big line or heading to a peaceful protest." What exactly is a peaceful protest? A harshly worded Facebook post or a prayer circle?
The whole point of a protest is to make people uncomfortable. Nonviolent? Absolutely. Peaceful? Not so much. Peaceful insinuates relaxation. You don't create change by posting something people can casually scroll by while on the toilet.
IT'S THE ASPEN WAY
This is just foolish. Skico doesn't speak for the people of Aspen. If you were to ask locals what the Aspen Way is you'd probably get a bunch of "Dumb and Dumber" quotes. It's a ski town, not ancient Greece. We're not inventing democracy.
I'm all for equality and treating people fairly, but acting holier than thou while purging people's pockets for a meal doesn't stack up right.
The slogan isn't half bad, but it's far from perfect.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.