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

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.