Whistler taps fast turnaround times

Snowplow drivers, lobster fishermen, landscapers. Lots of occupations out there are directly affected by the weather on a day-to-day basis. Marketing professionals don't generally fall into that category - unless, of course, they happen to be responsible for campaigns and promotions...

Snowplow drivers, lobster fishermen, landscapers. Lots of occupations out there are directly affected by the weather on a day-to-day basis.

Marketing professionals don’t generally fall into that category – unless, of course, they happen to be responsible for campaigns and promotions designed to lure visitors to the ski hills.

Mother Nature, as a rule, doesn’t give a lot of warning. So when the snow conditions are right – or wrong – B.C. ski resort Whistler/ Blackcomb Mountains must act quickly to get the word out.

Given the fast turnaround times involved, it’s not surprising that the Intrawest-owned resort tends to rely on newspaper as its media weapon of choice.

‘There is always a good deal of budget earmarked for newspaper advertising,’ says Alvin Wasserman, president and creative director of Whistler/Blackcomb’s Vancouver-based agency, Wasserman & Partners Advertising. ‘Because the traditional strength of newspaper is very applicable in this case: the ability to react quickly to changing situations. Nothing changes more quickly than weather, snow and occupancy rates.’

The ‘Room at the Inn’ execution that ran in Vancouver dailies this past December, for example, was produced in just three days.

With holiday-season bookings falling short of expectations, the resort called on Wasserman & Partners to let consumers know there were vacancies still available, particularly for New Year’s.

The simple, uncluttered creative – a photograph of the mountain, with an old-fashioned motel vacancy sign superimposed in the foreground – got the message across clearly and effectively, Wasserman says.

‘Even if someone was scanning the paper without reading the body copy, they could easily see that there was room at the inn. That’s the perfect example of using newspaper [in a way] that wasn’t planned – we just saw what was going on, and we reacted.’

In addition to newspaper, Whistler/Blackcomb employs radio on a local basis. This medium, too, offers speedy turnarounds – but unlike print, it does not allow for the inclusion of more detailed information. And that’s a critical factor when you’re offering ski packages, Wasserman says.

The visual aspect of the medium is also important to advertisers in this category. Seductive imagery helps create a ‘wish you were here’ feeling, he explains.

‘We’re selling an experience and a way of being,’ Wasserman says. ‘The idea that you are on a mountain – not in your office or at home.’

In addition to advertising in the B.C. market, Whistler/Blackcomb uses newspaper (along with ski and snowboarding magazines) to promote its package offerings in ‘fly-in markets’ such as New York, Boston and Toronto.

The resort never runs a pure branding campaign, Wasserman says, but each advertising initiative has a strong brand component, which finds expression in the choice of imagery and the overall look of the creative.

Specific typefaces, graphic formats and positioning lines remain consistent across all Whistler/Blackcomb ads and promotional materials, Wasserman notes. That goes a long way toward helping the agency deal with the tight turnaround times imposed by the weather.

‘Since we understand the brand footprint so clearly, it’s a lot easier to do these things than it would be to start from scratch every time,’ he says. ‘You’ve got a format, a library of shots and a depth of knowledge to talk about the product. With those in place, it doesn’t take too long to actually put the ads together.’

The shortest time frame the agency ever had was 48 hours, from original phone call to shipping. It was, recalls Wasserman, just a little ‘uncomfortable.’

Also in this report:

- Launch of Post good news for advertisers: Upstart daily has jump-started the industry, prompting offers of better rates, bonus ads and new loyalty programs p.NP3

- Stop the presses: Dailies are changing: No longer acting as simple order-takers p.NP4

- Picture perfect: It’s obvious that visually driven creative works well in newspaper. So why don’t more advertisers use it? NP5

- Telcos reward readers with a laugh: MTT and Bell Mobility employ unusual formats to nab attention p.NP6

- Savingumoney.com builds awareness offline: Coupon portal uses newspapers as linchpin of media strategy p.NP7

- Cadillac takes the long view: Used frequency of newspaper creatively by telling a different story every week p.NP10

- Edmonton Journal: Time for a change: Daily goes for a facelift p.NP10

- Talvest co-brands funds with FP Index: Helped Montreal financial services provider to crack Ontario market p.NP14

Corner Officer Shifts: Martin Fecko leaves Tangerine

Plus, PointsBet Canada and Thinkific name new marketing leaders as Lole gets a new ecommerce VP.
Corner Office

Martin Fecko departs Tangerine 

After roughly two years of serving as Tangerine’s chief marketing officer, Martin Fecko has a new gig. And this time, the financial services vet will apply his marketing leadership to a new sector, having been named CMO of Dentalcorp.

Fecko will lead the dental network’s end-to-end patient journey, support its overall growth, and work to maximize patient experiences across every touchpoint, the company said in a release.

“Martin’s in-depth expertise in engaging and retaining customers through a digitally enabled experience will be valuable in realizing our vision to be Canada’s most trusted healthcare network,” said Dentalcorp president Guy Amini.

Prior to joining Scotiabank’s digital-only banking brand in late-2019, Fecko was country manager for Intuit Canada and spent 10 years at American Express in consumer and digital marketing.

PointsBet Canada nabs former Bell marketer as it pursues expansion

Dave Rivers has joined PointsBet, an online gaming and sports betting operator, as Canadian VP of marketing.

Rivers joins from Bell, where he was most recently director of brand marketing and sponsorship, responsible for driving the company’s national sponsorship strategy and portfolio. He will report to PointsBet Canada chief commercial officer Nic Sulsky.

According to Sulsky, Rivers will “play a key role as we prepare to launch a business that is unique to our roots here in Canada.”

PointsBet has a significant presence in Australia, where it was founded, and in the U.S. In July, it named Scott Vanderwel, a former SVP at Rogers, as CEO of its Canadian subsidiary, one of several hires aimed at establishing the company’s presence locally.

Thinkific names first CMO among other executive appointments

Vancouver’s Thinkific, a platform for creating, marketing and selling online courses, has appointed Henk Campher as its first chief marketing officer as it invests in marketing to support its growth plans. It has also upped Chris McGuire to the role of chief technology officer and moved former CTO and co-founder Matt Payne into the new role of SVP of innovation.

Co-founder and CEO Greg Smith said Campher and McGuire “will play key roles building high-functioning teams around them and optimizing investment as we continue to carve out an increasingly prominent and differentiated position in the global market.”

Campher joins from Hootsuite, where he was VP of corporate marketing. Before that, he was VP of brand and communications at CRM giant Salesforce.

Lolë names new VP of digital omni-commerce as parent company exits bankruptcy protection

The Montreal-based athletic apparel and accessories retailer has appointed Rob French as VP of digital omni-commerce.

French will lead Lolë’s efforts in consumer insights, supply chain-to-consumer models and online customer journeys. In what is a new role for the company, he will also work to grow the company’s retail brand. He arrives with sixteen years experience in ecommerce, having spent the last few years as chief digital commerce officer at sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

In May 2020, Lolë parent Coalision Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, citing several years of losses as a result of a downturn in the retail clothing market, increased competition and excess inventory – problems exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the filing, Coalision was seeking an investor or purchaser of its assets.

It successfully exited bankruptcy protection last year and is currently rebuilding its executive team, according to a spokesperson.