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Skico marketing is late by design

Steve Benson
The Skico's current ad campaign includes a winter vacation planner and three separate ads targeted at different markets. This ad, which will run in TransWorld Snowboarding, features snowboarder Danny Kass catching air in the superpipe at Buttermilk during the Winter X Games.
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The September issues of the three major ski magazines – Powder, Skiing and SKI – were loaded with advertisements from Aspen’s competitors. Aspen and its four resorts were curiously absent. Did someone miss a deadline or does the Aspen Skiing Co. have something up its sleeve? “It’s deliberate,” said David Perry, Skico senior vice president. Those three magazines are sent to subscribers in August, a time Perry believes is too early to catch the attention of potential visitors. “For a lot of vacationers that’s ahead of their buying cycle,” he said. “We’ve seen in the last five years the trend for late booking – people wait longer.

“So we felt it was more important to have a presence in the October and November issues – which come out in September and October – than those in midsummer.” The October issue of Skiing contains a 22-page winter vacation planner, which is a continuation of “The Power of Four” campaign that debuted last season.”It’s important to get back to basics, we have a built-in advantage over our competitors and we need to talk about it,” Perry said. “We have four great mountains in one destination and a spectacular high-alpine environment with three towns and villages.” Inside the vacation planner, readers will find information on all four ski areas – Aspen, Snowmass, Highlands and Buttermilk – as well as air and ground transportation, accommodations, family activities and tips for navigating the mountains and towns. There are also three separate ads that will run in a variety of magazines early this winter. Some of the ads will be limited to certain regions. The ad that will get the most play is a horizontal, half-page aerial photograph of all four mountains spread across two pages. Each mountain is identified, with the slogan “Quadruple Your Pleasure – Experience the Power of Four,” splashed under the image.

That ad will run in the November issues of SKI, Skiing and Powder and in the November and December issues of Outside magazine. A similar one-page ad – the major difference is a shot of Chris Davenport and Joe Lammers skiing powder at Snowmass – will be featured in the October issues of Outside and Powder and the October and December issues of Ski Press. Last is a shot of snowboarder Danny Kass catching air in the superpipe at Buttermilk during the Winter X Games. The ad, which reads “X Superpipe – Come Ride It,” above a quote from local snowboarding goddess Gretchen Bleiler, will run in TransWorld Snowboarding magazine in October and November. While it seems possible that Aspen/Snowmass may have lost some business to competitors with the early season advertising, Perry doesn’t think that’s the case. He said holding the ads will prove beneficial in more ways than one. “We try to be as smart with our dollars and as targeted as possible,” he said. “I believe that as soon as Labor Day kicks in then the attention level to the changing season accelerates. I do feel we need to be present in the September and October issues and we’re there. “And no, we’re not losing any ground at all.”

This season Perry said the Skico plans to continue the Power of Four campaign and “push it to a higher level.”The Power of Four DVD that was created by legendary ski filmmaker Greg Stump prior to last season has been edited to include more recent footage, including material that was featured in Warren Miller’s movie last year. The Skico has distributed 70,000 new copies.The Power of Four book has also been updated with almost entirely new photography. And there are grand plans for the 2005-06 season. “We’re working on things that we’ll craft this winter … they’ll come to fruition a year from now,” Perry said. But just what that will be remains a mystery. “That’s for us to surprise our competitors next year,” he added.Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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