Breck officials pan second set of ads |

Breck officials pan second set of ads

BRECKENRIDGE – It’s back to the drawing board for the creative minds at McClain Finlon.

The Denver-based advertising firm presented a new set of ads this week for Breckenridge Ski Resort to replace a series of controversial ads placed in niche magazines earlier this month. The original ads read, “The hill may dominate you. But the town will be your bitch” and “Every night, a chance to earn your balls back.”

That campaign, created with the teen and 20-something crowd in mind, received criticism – and a lot of publicity – when it debuted earlier this month. The ski area eventually pulled the ads and asked McClain Finlon to come up with a new plan.

Ad designers created new ads last week, but they weren’t quite what the ski officials wanted, said Lucy Kay, vice president of marketing for the ski resort.

“They were mountain-focused,” Kay said. “They were about flailing on the mountain. They were cute, but they were such a far digression in terms of tone. We want something that will still resonate with that market and not be offensive. If we can’t do it well, we won’t do it. We won’t finish out that campaign.”

The ads presented this week were focused in Breckenridge’s terrain park.

“They’re in the same voice,” said Jeff Martin, a creative director for McClain Finlon. “You can’t lose the fact you’re talking to the same crowd. The idea was, Breckenridge has a great terrain park and halfpipe, so how do I say it in a way to get them stoked about it? So it’s the only place on their radar?”

Another ad campaign, geared toward older baby boomers, will still run in mainstream magazines, including Ski and Skiing. It encourages visitors to avoid those annoying wake-up calls by staying up all night.

The controversial “bitch” ads, which were placed in Stance, Transworld Snowboard and Skateboard, Axis and Freeze magazines, also encouraged people to head into town after a day on the mountain to rejuvenate in anticipation of the next day. It was the ski resort’s attempt to market the mountain and the town in a package, and let people know there is plenty to do in town after a day on the slopes.

Other marketing programs – which represent the bulk of the marketing budget – will tout kids-ski-free and buy-one-get-one promotions the ski resort offers every year.

Each market presents its own challenging, and today’s youth market is among the toughest.

“We’re all looking at the same trends,” Martin said. “We’re always trying to keep our finger on the pulse of what is cool with this crowd, and that seems to shift all the time.”

Chevy Tahoe, he noted, has started an advertising campaign using the same “Who’s your daddy?” line in the first ad Breckenridge used.

“To some extent, that saying is played out,” Martin said. “If it’s in a Chevy ad, it’ll never find its way into a youth market.”

Research companies spend millions attending raves or mingling in hip clothing stores watching and listening to the younger crowd, Martin said. Converse came out with a backless sneaker after researchers learned kids were cutting out the backs of their shoes to make them easy to slip on and off.

“We’re watching the industry, as well,” he said. “We’re trying to see how can we stay distanced from them.”

Whatever ski officials eventually opt to publish, in Martin’s mind, it has to be an ad people will pull out of magazines and put on their refrigerators.

If ad designers can’t develop a campaign that will get the attention of youth, ski resort officials will divert that money into events, where resort officials can show, rather than tell, young skiers and riders what the mountain has to offer, Kay said.

“That’s truly why we have invested so much in special events,” she said. “We generally don’t advertise to them. We think we can reach them more effectively this way. Nobody knows the answers. And it’s not like we’re the only company dealing with these issues. It’s driving a lot of discussion between advertisers and these agencies. We’re putting our heads together to find the right place.”

Martin said he thinks his staff can develop something the ski resort will like. He hopes the firm will have something in a week or two.

“We’re looking for that great gem of an idea,” he said. “We’re banging our heads against the wall trying to come up with it. It gets to be a challenge. You have to dig deep, and you need to push yourself to make some magic happen. We need to tap into an emotion that gets someone to change their behavior. That’s what great advertising does. If I can make them think of themselves in a different light, that’s what it’s all about.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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