Give A Flake

Give A Flake

Stand Up. Speak Out. Save Winter.

WORDS • Erin Spong | FEATURED IMAGE • Daniel Bayer

Aspen Skiing Co. is no stranger to being the loudest voice in the room with its values-based marketing efforts and campaigns, and the evidence is spread out over its entire history. Forty years ago, Aspen Snowmass introduced Gay Ski Week; in 2006, it boycotted Kleenex, a Kimberly-Clark brand, for the parent company’s poor environmental record; and it filed an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court on the Massachusetts vs. EPA lawsuit in 2007, which demanded the Environmental Protection Agency regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. The Aspen Way, its most recent advertising campaign, is the latest example of Aspen Skiing Co. standing up for what it believes in.  

Launched in the fall of 2017, The Aspen Way centered around Aspen’s four core values: love, unity, respect and commit. The campaign served as the resort’s first marketing effort to share its values with consumers by erecting art installments of the words, which were spread across the resort’s four mountains.  

“There’s always a risk in that,” says Christian Knapp, VP of marketing for Aspen Skiing Co. “You’d think [our values] would be universal… but they’re not and especially in the divisive times that we are in, they can be polarizing to certain audiences.” Despite garnering some expected negative response, the campaign as a whole resonated strongly with the Aspen Snowmass audience and achieved the company’s ultimate goal. “People wanted to talk about it. They were responding to it and that’s not typical with an advertising campaign,” says Knapp.  

Riding on the heels of The Aspen Way’s momentum, Aspen Snowmass took things up a notch with the evolution of this year’s campaign by not just talking the talk but walking the policy-changing walk. “The real mantra this year is ‘Give A Flake,’” says Knapp. “Give A Flake is a really clever, witty tagline, and it’s going to stand for a lot more.” Proudly considered a movement rather than an advertising campaign, Give A Flake focuses on the climate, specifically on passing policies in our government to mitigate climate change by getting constituents, including snow sports enthusiasts, to the polls for the November midterm elections and arming its audience with the resources and knowledge they need to make educated decisions when voting for their representatives.

“Shaping the politicians that are driving that legislation to help curb climate change is really one of the most important things that we can do as a business,” Knapp says, “so that’s why we are investing in it.” Vice president of sustainability for Aspen Skiing Co., Auden Schendler also expresses the important timing of this campaign. “With regard to climate, 2018 is the most important election in history because we’re at a tipping point, where if we don’t act, we’re going to fail to solve the problem.”  

Andrew Benaquista carves down a face in front of the Maroon Bells. PHOTO: Scott Bellow

While last year’s installations on the mountain were the biggest piece of the marketing pie, the lion’s share of this year’s campaign lies in a mantra video that “really is hard hitting and going to be the tent-pole video of our fall brand campaign,” Knapp proudly states. Along with a significant amount of digital pre-roll, the video is prominently displayed on the campaign’s landing page, GiveaFlake.com, where viewers can learn more about the campaign, research which senators support legislation that addresses climate change, which don’t and even tweet at specific senators through a Twitter generator on the site. “I loved The Aspen Way campaign last year,” says Knapp. “In this game, there’s always that challenge of one-upping yourself every year, and it’s not easy [but] when we saw this initial concept and the Give A Flake statement, it really hit home for me.”  

Another key component to the Give A Flake campaign is a print ad accompanied by a tipped-in page. The small business-reply card glued to the binding is targeted directly at three individual senators–Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)–who claim to support climate protection but haven’t taken any action toward environmental policies. Written with blanks to fill in your own name, the tip-in is intended to be torn out, signed and sent via snail mail to these senators. All of the postage and extra costs for the insert are paid for by Aspen Snowmass, but the company considers these expenses just a small price to pay for making a bigger impact than traditional campaign tactics. The tip-in will reach almost a million in circulation. “We’re hoping people send those in but, in the process, become civic activists,” says Schendler. “We’re trying to create citizenship.”  

Adam Mosynzki finds a stash of fresh in-bounds at Aspen. PHOTO: Matt Power

The targeting of Murkowski even prompted a letter to the editor submission from the senator. In it, she challenges being labeled as soft on climate legislation, defends the work she has done in Alaska to lower emissions and calls on people who truly care about climate change policy to send in their best ideas to their senators to help build common ground on new lawmaking. The campaign seems to be working.

Aware that Give A Flake takes an even stronger political stance than last year’s, Schendler, Knapp and the team at Aspen Skiing Co. wholeheartedly support the business’ beliefs, even if it may alienate some audiences. “I always like to think that there’s a percentage of guests—skiers and snowboarders—out there that will choose a destination based on that destination’s stance,” Knapp says. “I don’t think, in this day in age, it’s good enough just to be a standard destination.”   

With four world-class mountains that total 5,524 acres of skiable terrain, a nightlife that rivals the likes of New York City and Los Angeles and access to the aesthetically-unmatched Elk Mountains for some of the state’s most breathtaking backcountry terrain, Aspen Snowmass is far from a standard destination. Its passionate community of skiers often explore far beyond the ski area’s boundaries looking to earn their turns. From mid-winter friendly zones like Marble or Mount Hayden to the backcountry oasis that opens up on Independence Pass or around the neighboring 14ers in the spring, Aspen’s proximity to incredible backcountry lines is beloved by locals and visitors alike. It also breeds a community even more in-tune with the policies that affect their outdoor playground.

Give A Flake sets Aspen apart as a leader for environmental sustainability in the ski industry and is the proverbial cherry on top of the destination’s snowcapped sundae. “We have much more power by going outside our walls,” says Schendler. “This is power wielding an influence, and it’s by far the most important thing we can do.”

To learn about the campaign and join the movement, visit GiveaFlake.com.



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