Working together 

Parallel marketing campaign working for Whistler-Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler

Whistler. Always Real. Remember the tag line?

Tourism Whistler trotted out its new brand back in April after almost two years of development. Featuring the slogan "Whistler. Always Real." the goal of the brand was to showcase the "authentic Whistler experience" worldwide.

It translated into an ad campaign that uses primarily black and white images, real people – not models – and stamps the photos with a date, time, and place. It is an ad campaign designed to stick out in magazines full of perfect runs and bluebird skies. An ad campaign Whistler-Blackcomb liked so much they decided to adopt it.

When the brand was first presented to the public, Whistler-Blackcomb was going through internal discussions over the idea said Christina Moore, a representative for Whistler-Blackcomb. Those discussions have evolved into a marketing strategy that sees Whistler-Blackcomb using the same campaign currently used by Tourism Whistler in its own advertising. The ads are in the September issues of most of the major ski magazines.

"What happened," explained Moore, "was when Tourism Whistler started to review their process to create a new brand, the early results were shared with the Tourism Whistler board. We have two members on that board, Stuart Rempel, who is senior vice-president of sales and marketing, and Dave Brownlie, who is our chief operating officer. So the thought was at that time that the ad campaign was extremely attractive and it fit with a lot of Whistler-Blackcomb’s positioning as well. So we started internal discussions as to whether or not to adopt the same look and feel. Obviously, as a resort there is great benefit to having the same look and feel as we do complement each other’s efforts in magazines."

Having one look for the resort’s advertising is an idea that’s long been talked about in Whistler.

Tourism Whistler President Barrett Fisher said it’s new and very exciting to have Whistler-Blackcomb on board doing parallel marketing with them.

"If you’re out there promoting people to come to Whistler first and to your business or to your specific activity second, well wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do that collectively and leverage our resources to a greater whole that ultimately gives us a bigger investment," said Fisher.

The Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb ads do appear in the same magazines and except for slight differences in colour and the logos attached, the ads are almost impossible to separate at first glance.

The importance of that collective, consistent message cannot be understated said Fisher.

"We’re not big enough in our voice that we can afford to work independently or in a fractured way," she said. "We must work collectively and together we can grow our voice, we can grow our share… in the marketplace and we can collectively ensure that if a customer has seen a Tourism Whistler ad in one publication and they’ve seen a Whistler-Blackcomb ad in another publication, the important message getting out there is ‘come to Whistler.’ It’s not ‘come to Whistler-Blackcomb,’ it’s not ‘come to Tourism Whistler.’ It’s ‘come to Whistler.’"

Moore did not want to classify the shared idea as a partnership, instead calling it a parallel marketing campaign. She added: "There is a lot of communication between our marketing manager, Tourism Whistler’s marketing manager and the design agency. We’re all partners. Tourism Whistler was thrilled that we wanted to adopt this (campaign) as well. Tourism Whistler obviously works on behalf of the entire resort, including Whistler-Blackcomb."

Moore said Whistler-Blackcomb is happy with the parallel marketing campaign. "The ‘Always Real’ slogan certainly speaks to our brand. The black and white photography is very strong. What we like about that is it separates us from other ski resorts. Often times you just open a magazine and its all blue skies and white snow and so what really appealed to Whistler-Blackcomb was the black and white starkness of the ad. It speaks to our weather, which is not always blue sky and white snow. So it was appealing on a lot of different levels."

Moore said she was not informed of the financial aspect of the shared campaigns but said, "It’s the same campaign but we would focus, obviously, on more mountain products and Tourism Whistler will focus more on resort-wide products."

"Everyone in the resort is very positive about this campaign. I think I can speak for Tourism Whistler as well, we all see this reaching out over a number of years."

Fisher said the print ads will appear not only in ski and snowboard magazines but also leisure publications. Tourism Whistler is now doing some outdoor campaigns, in the form of billboards and subway posters, in California, Ontario, the UK and Australia. And they are planning a TV campaign, looking to partner with Whistler-Blackcomb, in the early winter.

She said: "We are growing our image and brand advertising efforts as Tourism Whistler into our key target markets and launching the new brand as part of that."

— with files from Alison Taylor

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