Sam Rufo, one of the authors of Ski Area Management magazine’s article on the Best/Worst Advertising of 2010, was kind enough to volunteer to ‘guest host’ this past week’s #mrktchat Twitterchat. For anyone who isn’t familiar with what a TwitterChat is, please take a quick read of Sam’s excellent description on her blog post, “TwitterChat 101“.  We had a good discussion about the ratings, but to some extent I think we just glossed the edges a bit, in that we never really delved very deeply into what the article.

Best and Worst - it's not Just Ski ResortsI don’t want to get into the debate of what a best/worst list is all about, after all everyone seems to do them (note, the image is just for an example, I’m not a reader of Star’s 55 Best and Worst Beach Bodies!). The article had a lot of positive and negative things to say about a variety of resort marketing efforts and called out a number of trends:

After combing through this season’s ski area ads in print, broadcast and online sources, SAM found standout campaigns in all channels, as well as some ho-hummers. We looked at branding, messaging and consumer response, and some of the most powerful advertising still derives from print and broadcast media. Creativity knows no boundaries.

Resorts that had a clear understanding of their customer demographics and the audience for each medium were able to engage, inspire and attract followers. But beyond showcasing deep powder, scenic vistas and après-ski activities, more areas are exploring their inner selves—their “social brand”—and these efforts often produced the most memorable and compelling messages.

Resorts express their personalities in a variety of ways: profiling the people who work there, showcasing the lifestyle of the locals, and using major events, from town festivals to snowboard competitions. Social media add a new strategy: letting your customers define the place in their own words and images. This creates a human connection with undeniable authenticity.

This all sounds great, but it doesn’t fully address the biggest thing advertising is about – accomplishing strategic goals and objectives. If a resort is just trying to drive database growth, then I’d say Mountain High did well with 20k plus acquisitions; even then, are these really consumers that will spent or will spend money at that resort or just a bunch of freeloaders that signed up for a contest? It’s awful hard to say one way or another as an outsider looking in.

As an interactive marketer, I’m also a bit disappointed in the examples presented as great interactive campaigns. Maybe it’s because there just isn’t enough room to go into Northstar and Sierra at Tahoe’s behavioral campaign, whoops think I meant to say re-marketing campaign, nah I like the description behavioral targeting. 😉 I thought the summaries of the Copper and Jay Peak campaigns were adequate, but to include a screen cap and a print creative for these two progressive interactive campaigns seems almost criminal – at least give us a link, I’m sure the resorts would be more than happy to post or provide creative for this piece. And I won’t even touch on the Social Media section of the piece because by only listing the ‘worst’ I can’t find anything to discuss.

I wish there was more discussion of how these advertising campaigns fit into each resort’s overall strategic objective. How these campaigns focus on each resort’s target demos and to what level of success, because as the article’s authors state in the 2nd paragraph quoted above, the most successful marketing will attempt to appeal directly to consumers – in essence creating buyer personas and using them to create advertising that is most effective as it is the most targeted.

I do find much of the thought that went into this article to be very spot on, and in most cases the authors did a great job of drilling down to specifics in terms of what was ‘best’ or ‘worst’ about a particular campaign. Keep it up Sam, Ken, David and Katie! BTW, what about the Vikings go Skiing ad from Capital One, I really enjoy this one even now – definitely a solid add to the ‘Best of 2010’ in my book!

Photo Credit: CC2 licensed image by Flickr user Slava