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Epic Race – Act III: How the Epic Race Lost Their Army of Brand Advocates

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Once again, let’s back up for just a moment and revisit the rules. At each location, racers had to do a few things:

  • Visit three, specific places on the mountain.
  • Take photos at two of those spots (racers choose which).
  • Record a 15 second video at the other (doesn’t have to be the last).
  • Upload the photos to Facebook.
  • Upload the video to YouTube.
  • Submit both photos and the link to your live, YouTube video on the Epic Race website.

To be clear, your video had to be both uploaded to YouTube and then submitted to the Epic Race website to officially finish the race.

The first 10 people to accomplish this on the final day would receive Epic Passes for life. First, sixth, tenth, doesn’t matter. You just had to be top ten.

So, let’s talk strategy.

If you’re racing against 100 other people in an area with questionable phone service, what would you upload at the last of the three spots? A photo, right? Videos are larger and take longer to upload.

A minute of uploading could be the difference between winning and losing (this was exactly the case with spots 9-14 separated by only 31 seconds).

In this regard, racers were unanimous in their strategy…well, almost.

Doesn’t Add Up
Keep these points in mind as I show you a table of the top finishers. Nearly all race participants have now seen this same outline of the finishing times published by race organizers coupled with content timestamps added by the racers. Specifically, look at spots 3 and 4.

Place Published
Created at
Last Stop
1st 10:04am 9:15am photo
2nd 10:05am 9:15am photo
3rd 10:07am 10:18am video
4th 10:07am 10:21am video
5th 10:11am 9:21am photo
6th 10:11am 9:38am photo
7th 10:12am 9:27am photo
8th 10:15am 9:39am photo
9th 10:17am 9:32am photo
10th 10:17am 9:21am photo

Somehow, the racers in 3rd and 4th position uploaded their videos not only at the last spot, but long after their actual finish time and at least a minute after the published finish time of the racer in 10th position.

When you get past HH:MM to exact seconds, the upload time of their YouTube video alone would leave them in at least 15th place. Yet despite numerous requests and appeals by racers to Vail Resorts to correct the standings, there has been neither a correction nor an explanation for why they remain unchanged.

Doesn’t Matter if They’re Wrong
I don’t tell you this to argue who is right or who is wrong. Because, honestly, that doesn’t matter.

What matters are two things. First, it matters what the racers believe to be the truth. Without an explanation, what they have is the closest they can get.

Second, with this perspective, we can put ourselves in the shoes of the racers…

  • …$5,000 on the credit card…
  • …a month of your life…
  • …the possibility of saving $30,000 in passes down the road…
  • …winners with glaring issues in their content and finish times…
  • …the YouTube links of the questionable racers now missing from the race website…
  • …no explanation from the people in charge…

…and ask, how do we feel about Vail Resorts now?

The Brand Advocates
I cringe every time I type “brand advocates”, but for lack of a better term, that’s what they are. People with a close relationship to the brand telling the world about all its greatest features.

But now?

Are we surprised that, according to some racers, upwards of 80% of all finishers are now part of a frustrated group wanting desperately to tell the world about this amazing experience but unable to get anything past the bad taste in their mouths.

Are we surprised that whatever brand advocacy had been earned has been all but lost? It’s like missing one piece in a puzzle – it looks great…except. Without that piece, it’s awkward showing it off.

What If
What if Vail Resorts came out and said,

“We messed up. You committed money, time, and emotion to this race and we blew it. Because of our mistake, everyone who finished that day will get an EpicPass for life.”

Would 1 free pass for every 3,500 Epic Passes sold fix things? I don’t know. And, truth be told, it’s probably too late.

The Epic Race was an idea full of promise that simply didn’t work. But I applaud Vail for trying. They had a big, crazy idea and, to their credit, just about pulled it off.

Thoughts? Ideas? Feedback? Comments are old-school, click here to grab a slot on Gregg's calendar and let's chat.

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