Mont Tremblant ads focus on nature

There are no photos of fluorescent-clad young people hurling themselves off cliffs in an advertising campaign for a Montreal ski resort; no depictions of death-defying jumps.Instead, a deer gazes into the camera; a flock of geese fly over an icy lake;...

There are no photos of fluorescent-clad young people hurling themselves off cliffs in an advertising campaign for a Montreal ski resort; no depictions of death-defying jumps.

Instead, a deer gazes into the camera; a flock of geese fly over an icy lake; a wolf howls.

Although Mont Tremblant, a ski resort nestled in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, is owned by Intrawest, the same corporation that owns Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, b.c., there is no western-style ‘ski-till-you-drop’ advertising campaign.

Selling escape

Mont Tremblant is selling escape, freedom and ‘being at peace with nature.

Rob McSkimming, marketing manager for b.c.’s Blackcomb Mountain, says the difference in the marketing strategies challenge some common assumptions.

‘You would think out West it would be more esoteric, concentrating on nature,’ McSkimming says, adding the hard-hitting, leading-edge tone to Blackcomb’s advertising clicked with West Coast skiers.

The whole experience

David Barry, director of marketing at Mont Tremblant (and a former ski instructor), calls the Quebec campaign ‘selling real skiing, the whole experience.’

And it seems to be working.

One of the few Quebec resorts that has not become discount-oriented in the last few years, according to Barry, Mont Tremblant is also one of the few to see an increase in business.

In fact, far from slashing prices and cutting costs, over the past year Mont Tremblant has poured millions of dollars into major renovations and the creation of what Barry calls a ‘prestigious’ world-class resort.

With the substantial improvements and additions made, Mont Tremblant is in the midst of an advertising campaign to publicize the additions, while maintaining the idea of an ‘escape away from it all.’

According to Barry, skiing can defy the traditional laws of marketing.

However, despite the wide mix of demographic groups involved, Mont Tremblant has a fairly detailed picture of its ‘average skier.’

Split roughly half and half between male and female (slightly skewed towards male), the Mont Tremblant skier is between the ages of 30-49, earns more than $75,000, is active and university-educated.

Although the majority of its guests are Quebecois, the language split is pretty even. Out-of-province guests come mainly from Ontario and nearby u.s. states.

The campaign kicked off in the summer with the drive for season passes. In all, it will incorporate print, outdoor, radio, tv and direct mail.

No cultural difference

For the most part, according to Barry and Andre Beauchesne, vice-president at Bos, the Montreal agency used by the resort, the campaign does not face the major cultural differences that some products do.

Skiers are skiers, regardless. However, there are subtle differences in the English and French versions of the campaign.

The same basic message runs throughout both: the facts about the improvements.

Mont Tremblant, the highest peak east of the Rockies, has spent $53 million on new runs, two new quad chair lifts, snow-making machines, a 113-unit condominium/hotel complex (called the St-Bernard) and a mountaintop restaurant.

Appeal to all

Barry says those details will appeal to all skiers, regardless of cultural or language differences.

Some differences come about purely because of logistics: outside of Quebec, the campaign must concentrate a little more on packages with accommodation.

When they market the resort in the u.s., Mont Tremblant’s marketing team uses the cultural aspect of the mountain to lure visitors northward.

They emphasize the ‘French-Canadian charm’ of the mountain, with the village’s ‘unique architectural elegance, reflecting our Quebec Heritage.’

Although successful out of province, this approach is not used at all in local marketing.

‘You could sit at home and look at your wife and experience `the unique culture of Quebec,’ ‘ Barry says. ‘If we used that at all [in Quebec,] it would be really corny. People would laugh.’

Beauchesne agrees.

‘That [aspect] is not important here,’ he says.

The images used in the English and French versions of the campaign are the same.

Four basic images are used: an expanse of snowy trees, geese flying, a deer and a wolf.

Provocative

Barry calls the images provocative.

‘When you open the page and see a deer looking right at you, you stop.’

Slogans emphasize that the multimillion-dollar developments have not harmed the harmony and natural setting of the resort.

However, there are subtle differences in the copy used.

Barry says in the English versions, copy is a little ‘crisper and punchier.’ Headlines are shorter, more concise.

He says, in general, in the French-language ads, there is more room for emotion, feeling and a little more ‘sensuality.’

From his experience, Barry has also noticed a few behavior differences between the French- and English-speaking guests that assist the marketing team when planning the versions for each group.

Higher response

Focussing a little more on value and price point appeals to the English-speaking segment of their market. They have also had a higher response from their English direct mail campaign.

Last-minute booking rates are higher for their French-speaking market, although, Barry says, that may be in great part due to geography, not so much cultural differences.

Another difference is the use of credit cards. Quebecois guests use cash more often.

So far, Mont Tremblant’s market is responding well to ‘the call of the wild.’

The resort is holding its own in difficult times and building an image that is helping make it a major eastern ski destination.