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Apr 17th


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POV: 2013 World Ski & Snowboard Festival

The World Ski and Snowboard Festival is one of the most well known event properties in Whistler. With more than 70,000 guests in attendance spending a total of $22.5 million in 2012, it’s a great opportunity for sponsors to engage with an enthusiastic and highly-targeted audience.  The loss of TELUS as title sponsor has the festival operating at substantially less than previous year BUT that didn’t discourage a variety of event sponsors from deploying a host of brand engagement activities – ranging from onsite sampling, contesting, giveaways, and even on-site sales.

After strolling around the WSSF event site, it was clear that certain brands ’just showed up’ while others stood out by bringing unique and engaging guest experiences.  Some of the hard-to-miss sponsorship activations included:

  1. Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola set up a large branded happiness bar beside the main concert stage where consumers could walk up to receive free cans of Coke. The branded structure was hard to miss along with the roaming street team decked out in red that were also giving away cans to passerby’s. Before long it was hard to look anywhere without seeing crowds in the village all sipping from the iconic red cans.  Great brand awareness and product endorsement – with the bonus of Coca-Cola showcasing commitment to sustainability via branded recycling stations.   
  2. Bud Light: We all know that après is a key part of the ski and snowboard culture. Bud Light also recognized this and took over the patio of the Longhorn to make it the official après of the Festival. Branded patio tents, banners, a branded LED screen and promotional staff made this activation stand out amongst the crowd – creating a cool brand experience, and a hot ticket for those that wanted to be seen and heard!  
  3. Nabob: One of the busier activations was the Nabob roaming coffee shop. This brand activation consisted of a branded trailer plus a roaming mini café, which popped up at a variety of locations in the village to serve free coffee. We all know people love free stuff, especially steaming hot coffee for the early morning ride up the gondola.  In our eyes, it was the mobility aspect of Nabob’s activation that made the difference between good and great.  Why wait for your audience to come to you when you can go to them?!?  Nice one, Nabob. 
  4. Axe: There wasn’t a shortage of contests at the Festival; however they were not all created equally.  One brand that took this activation element to the next level was Axe with their Axe Apollo contest.  Enter to win the opportunity train with 100 other lucky people, with a chance win a trip to space!  Yes, actual outer space.  A quick and easy registration process followed by a generous sample pack made this activation work. The only miss here was the lack of contest promotion and experience.  From our perspective, Axe’s very minimal activation  footprint didn’t effectively communicate the contest (good because it forced intrigued passers-by to chat with promotional reps, but bad becasue they likely lost a large number of potential visitors).  More prominent messaging and amped-up brand experience could have taken the Axe Apollo activation “to infinity and beyond” (sorry, couldn’t resist).

The World Ski & Snowboard Festival provides a captive audience that is generally just looking for a good time – mostly receptive to brand integration if it added value to their WSSF experience.  As always, smart sponsors who understand the audience and make an effort to tailor brand activation experiences will see more reward than those that don’t.  It’s not rocket science, but then again…(insert Axe Apollo humour here).


About Score Marketing

Score Marketing Inc. is one of Canada’s leading sponsorship authorities. Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, our company specializes in sponsorship marketing – with primary focus on Canadian brands and properties. For brands, we help to build award-winning sponsorship strategies and activation programs that support business objectives and drive meaningful, measurable results. For properties, we help to secure amazing corporate partners (think corporate soul-mates) and maximize the overall revenue-generation potential of rights-holders. www.scoreinc.ca

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