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Despite record skier visits last winter the Whistler Resort Association says the results of last year’s advertising campaign in major ski magazines was a disappointment. Last year the WRA went in a new "creative" direction with the ads it placed in ski magazines but the return on investment was only 1:1, compared to a traditional 6:1 return. Last year’s ads were aimed at too young an audience and didn’t speak to the overall resort, Jill Greenwood, manager of advertising and promotion for the WRA, told a members’ breakfast meeting last week. This year the WRA has returned to more traditional ad concepts with a large photo showing some of the ski runs and emphasizing the size of the resort. The two-page ad placed in the September and October issues of Mountain Sports and Living (formerly Snow Country) and Ski magazine also emphasize Whistler’s statistics. Greenwood said the ad campaign was tested against destination skiers across North America and fine tuned before publication. Suggestions from the test group indicated Blackcomb should be mentioned in the ads, as well as the fact that Whistler is in B.C. The 1-800 number was also increased in size following suggestions from the test group. Greenwood said Mountain Sports and Living and Ski have proven to be the best advertising vehicles for the WRA’s total resort approach. Whistler/Blackcomb is advertising in some of the other magazines — Freeze, Powder and some snowboard magazines — which are specifically aimed at hard-core skiers and snowboarders. Greenwood said Mountain Sports and Living is producing an overrun of its Top 50 resorts feature in the September issue — in which Whistler was ranked number one — for insertion in two other magazines. The WRA will be advertising in the overrun insertion. While advertising in consumer magazines may be the most visible promotion of Whistler, the WRA is targeting specific markets with other promotions this winter. New York and the major centres in California are being targeted with a direct mail campaign. That campaign is augmented by co-op ads — with Whistler/Blackcomb — in daily newspapers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, all markets that are served by direct flights to Vancouver International Airport. A co-op program involving the Canadian Tourism Commission, Tourism B.C., Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Victoria and the WRA is targeting the San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago markets through 2 million Getaway Guides distributed to frequent travellers in those cities. Beginning in mid-October Whistler will have co-op ad insertions in the travel section of the Seattle Times & Post Intelligencer for 48 consecutive weeks. WRA members are being invited to purchase space within the ad template. Alberta is being targeted for fall and early winter promotions, such as the Nov. 13-15 Cornucopia and the Hongkong Bank Whistler WinterStart festival. The Alberta campaign is a co-op program with Air BC, Tourism B.C., Tourism Vancouver, Whistler/Blackcomb and the WRA.

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