American Skiing Company Uses Viral to Build Offline Database


To insure skiers and boarders hit the slopes in droves this winter, American Skiing Company, parent to Killington, Sunday River, Sugarloaf and others, has launched Skier Intervention, a viral site with characters that dish out tough love in hopes people will get off their butts, head North, buy a season pass, make American Skiing Company rich and...oh yea...get people to take up the winter's best sporting and leisure activity. After all, skiing's not just about sliding down snow-covered hills but enjoying warm fires, cozy condos, beer and cheese fondue.

Unfortunately, there's a big problem with this viral. It can't be sent unless senders enter name, address, city, state, zip code and email. That's a lot to ask of someone just to pass along fun little viral. The site explains the information is needed to send various prizes, earned based on referrals to friends, such as season pass discounts, accommodations drawings and free lift tickets. While we can't fault a marketer for collecting leads, there's really no need to collect that information until after a person has actually won. To make matters worse, deep inside the privacy policy, which no one ever reads, it says the collected information may be used for offline direct mailings from ASC or "trusted partner companies." Just what we need - more crap in our mailbox. It seems this online viral is just a disguised direct marketing database-building mechanism for future offline marketing efforts.

So that we're not accused of simply crapping on every marketing effort that crosses our path, we suggest an alternative approach might have been to reach out to popular bloggers (yes, we know this is so cliche now but it does work) who ski and who have large, loyal audiences, offer them a free pass and, perhaps, some kind of incentive to offer readers and hope they write wonderful things about American Skiing Company resorts. Just a thought.

by Steve Hall    Sep-21-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Viral   

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I agree that they are asking a bit much. With a viral you want it to be as easy as possible to pass along. You want it to be "infectious"

Posted by: J D Moore on September 22, 2005 9:21 AM

While I don't disagree that they're a bit overeager and a little lost on the concept of what viral is supposed to do, didya have to say "crap in our mailbox?" Some of us do that for a living, you know. Sheesh.

Posted by: Lesley on September 22, 2005 9:46 AM

Oh I know. We're all in this business together but do you *really* like junk mail? :-) Of course, it's not junk if it's properly targeted, right?

Posted by: Steve Hall on September 22, 2005 10:29 AM

Looks to me like a viral example of what I call "smash and grab" marketing. Personally, I avoid any offer that has a lot of fine print. As I advise clients, if there are conditions, put them right up front. Don't be sneaky. And, make it as easy as possible for people to communicate, sign up, pass a long. Otherwise, you just defeat the purpose (and can actually drive away business.) And, sorry, Lesley, but if I didn't ask for it, I'll probably consider it "crap."

Posted by: Mary Schmidt on September 22, 2005 2:01 PM