Advertisements range from ‘ski porn’ to intellectual
By Scott Condon, The Aspen Times, November 12, 2008

ASPEN— Ski resorts, whether it’s Aspen or elsewhere, are facing their biggest challenge in recent times trying to lure customers to the slopes while the national economy is plunging downhill — perhaps making advertising more important than ever.

Most ad campaigns were devised well before the depth of the economic crisis became apparent, so marketing staffs couldn’t react to the eroding consumer confidence even if they wanted to. Nevertheless, some of this season’s ad campaigns are probably better positioned than others to capture attention in these times of trouble, according to Margaret C. Campbell, associate professor of marketing at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

During a recession, consumers tend to pull back and place more value on sharing time with friends and family instead of pampering themselves with extravagant purchases of material goods, Campbell said, adding it’s a phenomena called“cocooning.” Friends might spend more time at dinner parties at home rather than going out “clubbing,” for example. “Togetherness is going to work better in this economy,” Campbell said.

So she tends to think ad campaigns which promote that togetherness will strike a cord. The recession won’t prevent wealthy people from spending money and taking ski trips, Campbell said. They will still buy a week at Aspen or Vail.But how they arrive at the decision and what they do when they arrive might be different this year. “Isolated splendor” will be out; time with friends and family will be in, she said.

Aspen’s corporate citizen approach

The ad campaigns used by the ski towns are as varied as the resorts themselves,based on ads that ran in the October and November editions of SKI magazine.Some ski areas stick to the industry standard formula of blue sky, stunning scenery, white powder and beautiful skiers.

“Ski porn, as we somewhat lovingly refer to it in the ski trade,” said Adam Sutner, director of sales and marketing at Vail Mountain. “I wouldn’t demonize it as uncreative.”

Ski porn takes a direct approach with potential consumers, essentially saying,“ski here, we are a fantastic area.”

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