Skico ads, from elite to eco-conscious |

Skico ads, from elite to eco-conscious

John Colson

“It will get your attention.”That’s what Aspen Skiing Co. Environmental Affairs Director Auden Schendler is quoted as saying about the Skico’s latest ad campaign, which is shaped around the proposition that snow, as we know it, is about to become history, meteorologically speaking.And when I say “about to,” I mean that in the glacial sense – the Skico’s campaign posits that snow will disappear in 95 years or so, a casualty of global warming.It’s an intriguing campaign, another one of those ideas that seem to periodically pop out of the Skico’s creative-marketing oven just a little shy of fully baked. Perhaps a better analogy would be a tomato that’s picked green and then ripened in the box while being shipped to distant markets. In both instances, by the time we see it, the thing is what it is, and we either buy it or we don’t – depending on how desperate we are and how attractive the presentation is.Whether we truly need a half-baked bun, a slightly green tomato or a lame-duck ski industry, of course, never comes into the question of whether we buy or shy. That’s what marketing is all about: convincing us that we need IT, whatever IT is, and its condition at the moment or in the future is not our greatest concern.Anyway, as I noted before, the Skico’s campaign intrigues me. Corporations normally don’t willingly position themselves as prophets of doom and gloom, especially not a corporation that wants to get people to put out a fairly fabulous amount of money to come here for a ski trip (we’ll stick to the skiing side of local life for now).Let’s just dissect this a bit, see what is revealed.The Skico has, in the past, positioned itself unabashedly in the “elite” segment of the skiing market. The phrase “Empty by Design” comes to mind. We know how special we are, and we only want very special (euphemism for “very rich”) people to come here and join us on our special mountains. Is this the Skico’s idea of a continuation of that particular line of bull?According to the news stories, the Skico believes, based on surveys of tourists coming to Aspen and Snomwass Village, that 30 percent of its clientele is worried about global warming and other environmental issues. The first obvious conclusion to be drawn is that the other 70 percent don’t give a damn, or don’t want to admit they do either to themselves or some anonymous survey taker.But the Skico seems to think otherwise, that if 30 percent profess to being worried then there must be more out there. That’s somewhat akin to the journalistic adage that if you get one complaint about a governmental policy or act, it’s a safe bet there are at least 20 others out there who feel the same but didn’t bother to pick up the phone. This is viewed as sufficient justification for a reporter to bug the hell out of his sources to get to the bottom of whatever spawned the complaint.So maybe the Skico has something after all.Of course, this is just marketing, an ad scheme hatched by a consulting firm, maybe by one left-leaning whiz kid who had just seen “An Inconvenient Truth” and couldn’t get it out of his mind. Maybe the Skico brass doesn’t believe any of this, but does believe that environmentalism is an exploitably faddish wrinkle in the ongoing psychodrama of human history.Because if the Skico did believe its own marketing, Pat O’Donnell would be resigning to take a job, say, running a resort on a Caribbean mountaintop resort, well out of the way of the rising waters predicted by global warming believers. And if the town believed it, real estate prices would already be hitting the skids as all those investment-minded speculators tried to dump their McMansions before the snow goes away.And those seriously committed to staying in Aspen, no matter what happens, would be flocking to the local churches, temples and whatnot, praying like they never prayed before for some kind of technological breakthrough that requires immense amounts of silver ore for a process critical to humanity’s continued survival. The theory being that when one boom dies, another always takes its place, and there’s still plenty of silver in our local mountains, right?John Colson can be reached at

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