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Do Trademarks Have a Place in the Future Landscape of Ski Resort Marketing?

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What is the future of trademarks in the ski industry?

Steamboat has built an incredible brand on them, but as the climate of both communication and perception of corporations in skiing change, the future has be questioning their value.

One recent event in particular stands out.

City vs Town
A few months ago, Visit Salt Lake launched a campaign branded under the name, “Ski City U.S.A.”.

If that tagline sounds familiar, it should, because Steamboat has held the trademark for “Ski Town U.S.A. ®” since 1998.


But as some have pointed out, the topic isn’t whether resorts can/should borrow ideas from other resorts – even Steamboat would be guilty on that point…

Owly Images

…it’s whether there is enough value in fencing off some marketing idea to diligently defend it with legal means.

Then & Now
Before the social media revolution, a brand could enforce trademarks with virtually nobody knowing about it. Perhaps a local paper would pick it up, but the systems weren’t in place to allow such news to spread to likeminded people in other locations.

Today is different. Today, the act of trying to hide something usually leads to even greater exposure for the thing you’re trying to hide. It happens so regularly, there’s even a name for it: The Streisand Effect.

So is that happening to Steamboat with their trademark enforcement? I’m not sure.

Two Sides
When Steamboat enforced this trademark, both parties got an extra wave of mentions in the press.

But the value or detriment of this coverage depends wholly on the viewer.

In the end, the most important metric to watch might be something that doesn’t yet exist: consumer sentiment toward corporate action. In skiing, such a sentiment certainly exists though there appears to be a vast disconnect between the ideals skiers verbalize and where they actually spend their money.

But if The Streisand Effect continues to be magnified and if the sentiment does change and if it changes within the demographics Steamboat targets…well… then that’s a different story. But that’s a different snow with a lot of “ifs” in front of it.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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