Marrying live ‘urban skiers’ to an ad campaign

Want your street stunt to get ink or fill air? Stage it in front of major media. It's an old idea, but it can still produce enviable results.

Street teams of skiers – complete with skis, poles and artificial powder snow – served up an alternative to the rainy streets of Vancouver on Nov. 18 in a campaign designed to promote the early opening of Whistler Mountain. Armed with two-for-one lift vouchers and other promo items, five teams of urban skiers hit busy intersections and SkyTrain station exits during peak traffic times. They also parked themselves outside of major media outlets, earning coverage from 94.5 The Beat, C-Fox, Z95.3, CityTV, and CBC radio (along with a 30-second spot that ran intermittently throughout the morning).

Media buys by Wasserman & Partners are focusing on television and bus backs, while the PR campaign was created and implemented by Vancouver-based Traction Creative Communications. The campaigns will continue for the entire ski season (until April 2007), promoting special events each month for Whistler Blackcomb.

Traction Creative Communications promotions manager Mark Russell says the media coverage garnered 104,500 impressions. Apart from the media coverage, it’s a little harder to pinpoint the ROI. After 1.5 hours in the field, the urban skiers had handed out 1,000 tickets and 3,000 collateral items. Using that as a measurement reference, Russell says the eight-hour shift generated an estimated 21,333 impressions on the day of the launch.

‘The car traffic also needs to be taken into account,’ says Russell. ‘They were quite vocal end engaging with the skiers. And there was also a viral campaign going through the office towers, with people interacting with the skiers, waving and pointing from above. There were inter-office emails going around from staff who heard about the promo from one of the skiers or listened to the radio spots. Many people ended up looking for tickets at the multiple skier locations.’