I loved last season’s version of #WhistlerUnfiltered. So when Tourism Whistler and Origin teamed up again to launch the same brand in a new format, I couldn’t wait to see how it went. Luckily, Andy Bethune at Origin sent me a detailed report (without me having to ask). It was so interesting I asked if he could simply turn it into a post.
This fall, we launched a new campaign for Tourism Whistler called #WhistlerUnfiltered: Behind the Lens. Our goal was to evolve and leverage the remarkable success we experienced in our foray into the use of Instagram with last year’s #WhistlerUnfiltered, while addressing the key learnings we took away from a year of marketing with consumer generated content.
So this year we stuck with the “unfiltered” concept of asking visitors and locals to show us their perspective on the resort, but we added a new dimension by also asking some of mountain sports’ most respected professional photographers to share their unfiltered view of Whistler as well.
The result is an online gallery of 12 incredible images that epitomize mountain culture in Whistler, as captured and selected by nine amazing photographers. In addition to the photos, we asked each photographer to share their stories on the people, places and moments in Whistler that have inspired them.
We were careful to make sure that these images were gallery-quality and true representations of each photographer’s perspective on Whistler, and that the stories really tapped into the deeper meaning of each image and how it represents the photographer’s perspective. This meant Tourism Whistler had to take the brave step of giving up the reins and letting go of some control over the messaging.
We worked with Powder Magazine’s senior photographer Blake Jorgenson to curate the the gallery, and ski journalist Mike Berard to craft the stories behind the images working in collaboration with each photographer.
Beyond the website, Tourism Whistler is working on getting a travelling version of the gallery into targeted locations and events in key markets – like this one we did recently during the premier of Level 1 and 4FRNT Skis’ new movie at Evo in Seattle – and a few others locally.
We also worked with Mike Douglas and the guys at Switchback Entertainment to tell three of the stories through feature videos that cover a broad range of topics. Eric Pehota looks back on the early days of big mountain skiing; Paul and Ian Morrison tell us what it’s like to have the greatest father/son, photographer/athlete relationship ever; and Jussi Grznar and Beau Bishop’s talk about how their passion for documenting snowboarding helped Beau overcome a potentially career ending injury (this one was particularly adventurous because it sheds a lot of light on what could be seen as a negative aspect of the sport, and took a lot of courage from Tourism Whistler to produce).
Overall, we really wanted this campaign to showcase Whistler’s role in defining the new meaning of “mountain culture”. It’s a significant break away from the often broad-stroke, product-focused approach that many resorts and tourism authorities choose to base their marketing on. Instead Tourism Whistler had the courage to let skiing and snowboarding’s true culture-creators and storytellers give their honest and (relatively) unfiltered take on what makes Whistler special.
And while we took the opportunity to bring up the production value of the campaign by adding professional photography in the mix, we of course couldn’t forget the army of Instagrammers who continue to passionately contribute to the campaign’s “People’s Lens” — a section of the site with an instagram feed of almost 30,000 hashtagged images, and monthly interviews with instagram contributors.
This focus on authentic culture, people, and storytelling is the type of inspiration we believe people are looking for, and it also serves to keep Whistler in a leadership position in the industry.
So far, feedback on the campaign has been super positive and while it’s still really early, all of the key metrics are headed in the right direction. It’s also been a great mutually beneficial relationship for Tourism Whistler and the photographers, who are excited to be profiled and represented through images that they were truly inspired by…instead of the types of images we ski area marketers have all been guilty of commissioning (you know, the “we need a powder turn… on an empty slope… with bluebird skies… and a peak in the background… plus a family, on a groomed run… and oh can you make sure family is ethnically diverse … oh, and don’t forget…).
Guilty as charged. You can think of this one campaign from us as a small olive branch extended to our photographer friends.
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