Marolt: Creating an ad campaign around total transparency
January 17, 2018
Who can forget the Lululemon see-through yoga pants debacle that helped the company spin cheap stretch fabric into gold? Just as Lulu athletic wear was coming into its own, they sent out a batch of pants that failed to perform one of pants' basic functions — keeping the wearer's privates private. Women who wore them were essentially showing up to yoga classes half-naked.
When this, that, and the other things were revealed, the company's stock tanked and its future was not nearly as clear as their product. Let's just say things didn't look good all the way around. Then, the company's president came out with his official statement on the matter: "Lululemon clothing is not made for every woman's body."
He basically claimed that big butts were stretching the fabric to the point of transparency.
Unbelievable! It appeared to be the absolutely stupidest thing to say. The press went wild. People predicted a boycott of the company and ensuing financial ruin. But a funny thing happened on the way to certain bankruptcy.
Yes, women were definitely offended by the comment … on behalf of other women. As for them, it appears they basically said, "Well, while it may be true that Lululemon clothing is not designed to fit every woman, I am not one of them and I aim to prove it!"
Like a Winter Storm Warning issued by the National Weather Service, the blizzard never materialized. To the contrary, Lululemon sales soared. The sun shone brightly on their stock price. Instead of becoming history they became a historic phenomenon in the fashion industry.
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So, what went right in this mess? The company president, with his insensitive remark, made women so mad that they had to make him wrong. And guess what? The easiest way to prove him wrong was to show him that they belonged in Lululemon clothing. And, so they did. They went out and proved every single woman can and will wear Lululemon! There's an urban myth circulating that even a few men now wear the stuff.
Now, I am all for Aspen Skiing Co.'s ad campaign message of inclusivity within the world's most exclusive ski resort. It was straight up the right thing to do this year considering all the hateful blather from the boob in the White House that is emboldening haters all over the planet. Well done, message delivered, now we have to start thinking about next year.
I think we need to take a page from the Lululemon playbook. We need to leverage potential visitors' fears of missing out. We should go directly at people's egos — make them feel like they have to prove they belong in Aspen-Snowmass. Is it shameful to bruise their pride a little in the process? I don't think so, if our aim is to make them even more arrogant in the end.
How about this for starters: "You're probably pretty good, for Keystone. This is Aspen-Snowmass."
It kind of hurts, right? But, it also makes you want to go to Aspen-Snowmass to prove those arrogant pricks wrong. You do belong there! Ironically, it's really just an offbeat way to promote inclusivity.
We can address the quality of skiing: "You probably think Vail's Back Bowls are extreme. This is Aspen-Snowmass."
We can address related activities: "At A-Basin, you need a Hibachi Grill in your trunk for apres-ski. This is Aspen-Snowmass."
We can shame them about things they think are cool that are actually so not. "You probably use a carabineer as a key-ring at Winter Park. This is Aspen-Snowmass."
Or, even geography: "In Steamboat, you probably think the best ski areas are supposed to primarily face southwest because fluffy powder grows deepest in full sunshine through photosynthesis. This is Aspen-Snowmass."
The great thing about this theme is that the variations of it are almost endless. There are a zillion things you can make people feel inadequate about.
How about this one: "You're probably considered a big shot at Beaver Creek. This is Aspen-Snowmass." This one may produce the most economic windfall. We are shaming people not only into coming here, but also spending way more money than they might otherwise. It reminds them that actions do speak louder than words.
Here's the thing, too: We absolutely know it will work. It has worked like a charm for us for years now. The only downside is that once we put this all down in print ads, we can no longer deny that we do this.
Roger Marolt thinks you probably shouldn't read this column because it's too hard to understand. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.