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To Bandwagon or Not to Bandwagon, Resort ‘Harlem Shaking’ Begs the Question

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I’m writing this post on February 13. And I’m telling you this because by the time you read these words (a week later), the Harlem Shake could be a think of the past. Such if is our day and age.

Today, however, this video trend is much like “Sh*t _______ Say” was last year.

Though apparently nothing like the actual Harlem Shake, each video starts with multiple people in view but only one (typically with some sort of mask on) is dancing to a specific song by Baauer. Once the main beat starts, cut to the same shot but with everyone dancing and often wearing costumes. Like so:

So, what did Copper do? Record a version of their own:

Within a few hours of the video going live, Aspen gave them props for being quick on the draw with their “Beat´╗┐ us to it. Tip of the hat. Great work.” comment below the video. Then, more and more resorts jumped on the bandwagon:

Jay Peak



Sunshine Village


Kicking Horse


Boston Mills / Brandywine


But not everyone was a fan of what resorts were doing:

What “Should Have” Happened
Honestly, I liked the first few Harlem Shake videos I saw. Then, with the exception of maybe Copper, the rest (including ski resorts) were increasingly painful to watch.

According to the sock, the videos that ruined the meme should have been disliked, rarely watched, and hated. According to my quick burnout, you’d expect a similar result: few views and lots of annoyed skiers.

What Actually Happened
Instead, the videos above have been watched a combined 80,000 times, liked over 500 times and disliked just 25 times.

Haters will hate, socks will blame resorts for ruining memes, marketers will get burned out on trends, but it’s the skiers and boarders that matter. In this case, they voted for branded Harlem Shake videos with their views and likes.

If you make it, they like it, and it fits your brand, it’s tough to see a reason why you can’t jump on.

  • haha I just knew there was bound to be a Harlem Shake Slopefillers blog entry.

    • When ten resorts make identical videos within a week’s time, how could I resist? ;)

      • More like 10 in a few days! haha

      • Identical? Hardly. You didn’t see a gondola/tram in my video, did you?

        • Nope, nor did I see them in Copper’s, Brighton’s, Windham’s, SSV’s, Stratton’s, BMBW’s, or Kicking Horse’s ;)

  • could be bandwagon-esque, but in this challenging snow season, i think it’s a great idea for resorts to always try to offer decent content. i guess when there’s not great powder footage, Harlem Shake may have to do.

    • Great point, Jeff, though the definition of “decent content” may be a little loose in this scenario ;)

  • What I’m learning from all of this, is that you’re undergoing a challenging snow season. First I thought of crossing the pond sometime in March, but I’ll stick to Japanese France ;)

    BTW, nice blog entry Gregg!

    • Thanks, guys. I have a friend in Austria right now who, judging from his pictures, may never come home to Colorado because the snow is so good over there ;)

  • I think as long as you’re producing these short, fun videos with little cost to your company, let ’em rip, at the end of the day they may not be the most impressive or widely viewed videos out there in the Harlem Shake sphere, but to your resort community, they’re worth their weight in light-hearted gold!

    • Totally agree, Pat. Though, I have to keep reminding myself of that when that wretched song pops in my head again and again and ag…

  • Cat

    People love the concept because it’s simple. It’s perfect for the ski resort industry as a way to do something silly. Look at the last few you listed especially – I see a bunch of grinning happy children. No harm jumping on that kind of bandwagon, if you do it timely, well executed and promoted!

    • Good call on the timely. With a trend that flames up and burns out as quickly as this one, that could really be big. Normally, 7 days wouldn’t be a big deal, but seeing that Copper got theirs up a full week before Stratton is significant when it comes to videos like these. Great point.

  • Jessica Downing

    I’m kind of glad I somehow missed the wagon the first time around (last week), and now it really would be jumping on, so I don’t have to make a Shake. whoohoo. :)

    • Based on how many of my brain cells die a cruel death every time I hear that song, I fully support your decision.

  • Two things:

    1. Is this sort of silly content better or worse than the everyman-alienating cliff-dropping white room footage these resorts wish they were able to put out right now?

    2. This is by far the best Harlem Shake video:

    • 1) I’d say worse. Though cliff-dropping footage isn’t my fav and is likely setting unrealistic expectations for beginner skiers, it does carry a dose of “get on the mountain” motivation and dopamine goodness as the viewer vicariously skis the same lines in their mind.

      2) I’ve seen a few like that, but that’s by far the best. Perhaps another meme is starting based on mocking the original meme? ;)

  • This video has also been making the rounds in the last day or two. Harlem residents reacting to these videos.
    I know it’s simply a poorly chosen name, and not an intentionally racist conspiracy. But it should be noted.

    • So true, it’s actually the link toward the top (“Harlem Shake”). I figured embedding a dozen other videos was probably enough and made that just a link.

      • Oh. Duh. Sorry man.
        *article consumed in hospital exam room.

  • I was going to say our seat on the bandwagon was, technically, in front of David’s but I aint no hair splitter and his was better; certainly wetter. Give me a poorly executed Harlem Shake, and it’s obvious intent at creating content, over a soul-crushing tell-me-what-trail-reminds-you-of-Valentine’s-Day any day. 6 out of 7 days maybe.

    • Probably should have prefaced the list with “in no particular order” lest a future hair-splitter stops by who lacks your self control.

  • People can hate on the Harlem Shake as much as they want. It was an easy way for us to nab almost 25,000 views in a couple days. It was dead simple to create, and everyone involved had an amazing time. Also, I’d like to note that we have 99 thumbs up and 0 thumbs down on our video. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be aware of social trends that are floating around and see if any of them are relevant to your brand. For a sport as irreverent as skiing and snowboarding this fit in perfectly.

    We started planning this video shoot on Monday afternoon, so why did it take us so long to get it out? We wanted to do something unique. Yes, we could have done it from the top of the Highland Bowl, Gondola Plaza or a million other locations – but we wanted to make it uniquely Aspen, and because of that we decided on using our Veuve Clicquot champagne bar (open weekends only) and wait for perfect weather. It also takes a while to get 30+ miscreants onto the mountain at the same time, clear permission with our food and beverage division, get patrol there to ensure that everyone is safe, etc. It was edited on the spot with my MacBook Air and published when I skied down to the base where we had WiFi.

    On top of the video views we had exposure on TGR, Freeskier, The Denver Egotist, Reddit, AlpineZone, got the cover of the local paper, and have a story dropping with Ski Magazine. Not too shabby for a 30 second video that took less than 5 minutes to edit.

    • That’s exactly it, Dave. Well said. No matter how sick I (or a dirty sock or whoever) am of these videos, the proof is in the numbers. Even if the cool factor only lasts 3 days for every person on the web, that’s still a three day window where it’s something they are looking for and excited about finding. If a resort provides the goods, they thank them with 30 seconds of their time and a positive view of the mountain. From personal experience, haters are just the ones whose 3-day window has already passed. At one time, they thought it was cool too.

  • The Aspen version is by far the best. You can see that the creators made some key decisions before they shot a frame. Location, light, casting, costumes and typography were all considered, and it shows. If it took a week, longer than the resort down the road, who cares, it’s better. But will it really fizzle out or is there one last escalation of production values, more people and crazier dancing? If more are to be made they will have to one-up each other, which is a good motivation for making these videos. The Boston Mills version is terrible. Children arrhythmically jumping up and down dose’t make for a good Harlem Shake.

    • You’re quite right, Mark, and a couple other people (offline) said the same thing, that “the Aspen version actually makes me want to go to Aspen.” The framing, the light (especially, some of those others shot on a cloudy day look depressing), the costumes. When I turn the sound off, it’s pretty clear Aspen were the winners in quality on this one.

    • I disagree on taking an extra week when jumping on a trend like this. Today is too late to do another one of these videos. Some things are now or never.

      • Shawn, there is definitely a risk in waiting on trends like this, but I think Dave’s Aspen vid has proved that waiting comes with rewards if it increases the quality without missing the boat.

    • I don’t know, all I could focus on was the girl who suddenly forgot how to hula hoop.

  • AK

    The resorts should keep giving ’em what they want. Which is clearly these videos. That said, I want to drink a beer with the sock puppet. Rasta top sheets, so random..

  • erichoffman

    There’s lots of noise to cut through in terms of getting message and brand exposure, gimmicks like jumping on the meme bandwagon can work (sometimes), but it’s only getting more and more challenging to cut through the static as brand marketers no matter your industry.

  • Mountain High didn’t actually produce this parody, but some of the local riders made a video and we shared it.

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