Skico out-hustles resorts for `Monday Night’ plug |

Skico out-hustles resorts for `Monday Night’ plug

The Aspen Skiing Co. pours big bucks each year into marketing, but it was something free Monday night that captured the attention of a good share of the country.

The Skico managed to edge out competitors like Vail, Steamboat, Telluride and Breckenridge for a coveted plug during the “Monday Night Football” game between the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos.

“Basically everybody in Colorado wants to do something on Monday Night,” said “Malibu” Kelly Hayes, an Aspenite who plays a vital role with ABC’s football telecasts. “The Ski Company just out-hustled them.”

Steamboat representative Billy Kidd even sent pairs of skis to each of the three football announcers to try to entice them to drop the resort’s name. It didn’t work.

Instead, ABC flashed two clips of skiing in Aspen, one during each half of the game. The scenes were good enough that anyone even remotely interested in skiing was left drooling.

One shot aired at 7:30 p.m. and came with a plug by the announcers about great early-season snow in the Rockies in general and Aspen in particular. Even more impressive footage was shown at 9:10 p.m. that showed

two skiers plowing through powder.

Skico director of communications Rose Abello had the footage shot last week after Aspen received about three feet of snow. “I think the first shot that aired was Dipsy,” said Abello.

Ironically Aspen Mountain received the great exposure even though it won’t open until Saturday. (Technically, the mountain will open Friday for a benefit day for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.)

Even more ironically, the second shot was stock footage that wasn’t from this season. Abello said one clip was marked as shot exclusively for “Monday Night Football” and the second was marked as stock.

Hayes, an avid skier when he’s not on the road for “Monday Night Football” and ABC’s Saturday Pac-10 college football contests, downplayed his role in getting Aspen footage shown. “I just facilitated,” he said.

Hayes accumulates biographical information and statistics on the players before the game, then works as a “spotter” of the action and ball to help play-by-play man Al Michaels make the calls during the game.

Hayes said he made sure “the appropriate footage” from the Skico was sent to the appropriate person at ABC, in this case executive producer Brian Gordon. Abello said she believes Hayes played a much greater role.

“We were really excited to pull it off,” said Abello. The Skico is successful at getting video shown on The Weather Channel and various cities’ TV stations throughout the ski season, but “Monday Night Football” “is the one everybody sees,” she said.

“You always cross your fingers and hope, but there are no guarantees,” Abello said. “The only way to guarantee coverage on `Monday Night Football’ is to buy an ad.”

That would have cost a minimum of $350,000 for 30 seconds, according to Hayes. Instead, the Skico spent between $1,000 and $2,000 “out of pocket” to shoot the footage, Abello said.

She said it is too soon to say if the footage resulted in telephone calls from prospective customers, but as St. Regis Hotel general manager Richard McLennan noted, “It certainly didn’t hurt.”

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