Whistler featured in upcoming Olympic TV ad in U.S. 

NBC will air ad 44 times in Bay Area during games

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Tourism Whistler (TW) is hoping to build on Whistler's Olympic legacy during the Sochi Winter Games next month, with a high-profile commercial airing in the San Francisco area that showcases the resort.

The 30-second TV spot will air 44 times throughout NBC's primetime Olympic coverage, and was a joint effort between Tourism Whistler, the Vancouver, Coast & Mountain Tourism Board and the Vancouver Hotel Destination Association. All three partners contributed equally to the ad, which features iconic imagery of Whistler and Vancouver that's aimed at underlining their Olympic legacies, said TW's senior manager of marketing services Kirsten Homeniuk.

"We were a host venue, and so much of that spirit of the Games, whether it be achievement in sport or the vibe in the Village with our friendly and genuine people, we really feel that spirit is still alive in Whistler today," she said. "Paired on top of that of course are the beautiful legacies, the actual tangibles that exist from the Games and the fact that you can experience some of those Olympic sports (in the resort) is pretty cool and pretty unique."

Among the legacies from the 2010 Games in the resort are Whistler Olympic Plaza and the Whistler Sliding Centre, where guests can try their hand at skeleton and bobsleigh runs.

The San Francisco area has long been a crucial target market for Tourism Whistler, Homeniuk said, with long-haul destination visitors serving as a major economic driver for the resort, as outlined in the 2013 municipal Economic Partnership Initiative report.

Along with the commercial, TW will execute an online marketing campaign on NBC's Bay Area Olympic website, promoting a Whistler Stay and Ski package.

"Those (online ads) are a lot more focused on getting the consumer from the dreaming phase to the booking phase," said Homeniuk.

The Olympic campaign follows another Tourism Whistler marketing push in San Francisco that saw the Union Square holiday ice rink transformed into a photo exhibit featuring winter images of Whistler by nine of the resort's most talented photographers, including the award-winning Blake Jorgenson, Robin O'Neill, David McColm and Mattias Fredriksson. The exhibit was also marked by in-person appearances by Miss Whistler Mountain and Miss Blackcomb Mountain.

The pop-up exhibit, called Behind the Lens, ran for three weeks ending Jan. 10 and displayed large, LED-lit photos of Whistler mountain culture around the ice rink, creating an association with winter amidst the sunny weather of Northern California, Homeniuk noted.

"It's progressive," Jorgenson said in an interview that was included in the TW release package. "The way people communicate with each other is changing and this project acknowledges that. My job was to find photos that would interlink together as an exhibit... and still tell the full Whistler story."

Behind the Lens banks on the success of last year's popular Whistler Unfiltered campaign, which encouraged the sharing of resort images on social media. More than 30,000 photos have been shared using the #WhistlerUnfiltered hashtag, according to TW. This year, the campaign extended to pro photographers featured at www.behindthelens.whistler.com.

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