Skiing’s Not Dangerous And There’s Always Lots of Snow

According to Susan Greene of The Denver Post, Vail Resorts doesn’t take kindly to reports that it exaggerates snowfall reports.
Even seemingly tame reports like this one from veteran reporter Bob Berwyn in a Nov. 19 column in the Summit Daily News:

“I sometimes wonder whether the ski industry wouldn’t benefit more from being completely transparent about weather and snowfall with its customers. But when snow = money, perhaps that’s expecting too much.”

That’s pretty far from inflamatory language, but Berwyn says Vail Resorts chief executive Rob Katz phoned immediately to complain. The company went on to cancel ads for its resorts at Keystone and Breckenridge, at least temporarily. Oh, and Berwyn was fired from the paper.
Here’s more from Greene’s column:

The company counters that publications often print “things we don’t like, but that in no way affects our advertising policy with them.” It adds that Katz had no part in Berwyn’s firing but “simply expressed disappointment in how the paper handled the issue,” and took umbrage with allegations that the company misleads customers about snowfall.

Apparently, the problem doesn’t end there. According to David Carr of The New York Times, Ski Magazine pulled a story about a 14-year-old girl who died last month while skiing at Breckenridge, after Vail Resorts threatened to pull its advertising.
It’s not news that there are unscrupulous advertisers in the world. But it is news that publishers are increasingly caving to their demands because what’s left of their livelihood depends on a rapidly diminishing supply of ad revenue. Not a pretty story, is it? Although, there may be something of a happy ending in it, since Berwyn was inspired to launch Summit County Voice, which is dedicated to reporting unfiltered and uncensored news from Summit County and beyond. Of course, the question of how to make a living from the new site is still in question and probably will be for some time.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.