Aspen Skiing Taps Purple Creative for Response Lift

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Aspen Skiing Co. has named Purple Creative, Denver, to handle direct marketing for the company that runs the ski slopes and offers lift tickets, snowboard rentals, lessons and lodging in Colorado's Aspen/Snowmass Village.


The agency's G.A. Wright Marketing Inc. parent previously handled literature fulfillment for Aspen Skiing, but got creative responsibilities as well when Purple Creative recently was spun off as a new division.


"We made a presentation to their marketing folks, they agreed that we knew direct response marketing and they started passing work our way," said Jonathan Rice, general manager and creative director of Purple Creative.


Sterling-Rice, Boulder, CO, remains Aspen Skiing's agency of record. But all direct marketing work rests with Purple Creative (purplecreative.com).


Current and future programs for Aspen Skiing include writing its annual vacation planner and acquisition brochure, and handling press advertisements and direct mailing for the Season Pass.


Purple Creative also will develop and implement a continuous communication direct mail piece. Bereft of a direct sales pitch, this piece aims to keep Aspen top of mind even after the skiers have left.


"Our guests are valuable to us, and we appreciate that they've traveled a little further to get here," said Mark Logan, marketing manager at Aspen Skiing. "They think it's worth it, and we think it's worth showing our appreciation."


The mailer will drop every two weeks to segmented audiences.


Such direct marketing also tries to address a problem Colorado faces: the falling number of skier days.


According to Aspen Skiing, the company recorded 1.27 million skier days for the 2001-02 season, down 6 percent from the previous year. Statewide, Colorado Ski Country USA in 2001-02 saw a 5 percent plunge in the destination ski category over the previous year.


Part of that drop is attributed to the double-digit declines this past year by the travel and tourism sectors. But Aspen Skiing is banking on winter sports enthusiasts from outside Colorado to boost snowboarding and events businesses in the upcoming skiing season.


More encouraging is that Aspen Skiing research conducted with operators, transportation firms and airlines shows that its market share of out-of-state destination business has grown relative to rivals.


Aspen Skiing further claims that out-of-state visits to Aspen/Snowmass Village declined less than in the rest of Colorado.


"They're not a day-trip kind of destination because it's horrible to drive there, which means that there are smaller lift lines and more out-of-state visitors," Rice said.


Purple Creative's client roster includes Quizno's Subs, Vectra Bank Colorado, Black Hawk Casino by Hyatt and Continuing Legal Education International. A recent addition was Xanterra Parks and Resorts in Denver.


Purple Creative offers copywriting, design and production for all forms of direct marketing, including print ads, mailers, brochures and radio, but no television yet. The agency of five is led by Rice, a Briton who has served as creative director at direct shops in London and Boston.


Rice is not fazed that smaller DM agencies may have a tougher time in this sluggish economy. It may even hire, but only experienced talent, he said.


"Many people have been complaining that the market is down, that advertising budgets are going away," he said. "I'd argue that this is therefore the perfect environment for an agency that focuses specifically on measurable return on marketing dollar. Want results without paying over the odds? DM has to be the way to go."


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