Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Outside the norm—again

It is sort of like the corporation on the other side of the Continental Divide conducted an anthropological study of us—the people living here and those who visit the place time after time. Professional branding scientists dug deep and discovered what they felt was a community outside the norm—even outside the norm of ski resorts, which are generally outside the norm. They stumbled on a place they describe as filled with people “wild in spirit, ambition and place with an audacious attitude.”

The Vail Resort researchers handed their findings over to their marketing compatriots, who are willing to “push the envelope” compared to what they normally do when trying to attract skiers to their resorts. They will try to communicate in a different language to attract like-minded people to Crested Butte, compared to how they speak when attracting the vast majority of people to their more slick enclaves in the mountains around the world.

The marketers will use terms like “wild ones,” “fearless,” “unconventional,” and “unique” to label those who call Crested Butte and its environs home. They will then seek others not yet here to try to attract them to this rugged, natural terrain where they will discover their rough self among us—and spend their money.

That’s the new branding focus for Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Vail Resort leaders want to attract hominoids similar to those already found in the valley who for some reason like to strap boards on their feet in snowstorms and slide down cliffy terrain while going forward or backward or upside down. They will do so by trying to discover the nuance of that “voice” so they can communicate with that creature who many in the corporate boardroom in Broomfield apparently find strange and outside the norm.

The representatives of the corporate researchers who are embedded here told some elected leaders of the tribe this week that those on the other side of the Rocky Mountain Divide have basically never gone there before. This culture is so different from what they have studied before. So they are trying to tailor a new message that speaks to a fresh segment of the winter population that skis and boards the mountain ranges of the world.

The language they are trying to learn to utilize in their branding experiments describe this Crested Butte society as “untamed” and made up of “intrepid” humans who are full of “grit” and who prefer the “end of the road” to standard society. They are seeking to attract “free spirits who revere Mother Nature” and “risk takers with passion and perseverance” who seek like-minded humans.

Does this new “branding” hit the mark of what this place represents? Will it successfully attract freaky winter enthusiasts who appreciate Crested Butte instead of those who arrive expecting a standard high-end resort experience and are disappointed to find toddlers dressed as superheroes shredding Body Bag chutes?

Did the researchers forget the “normal” folks who reside and visit here? I would invite those in Broomfield to leave their corporate boardroom and Front Range anthropology laboratories to come meet the average person who lives or visits here this weekend. I challenge the local community to meet and greet those from the other side of the Continental Divide, say, this Saturday evening. Give the corporate suits a chance to come see the gamut of local natives in their khaki pants and polo shirts and get a real feel for what it is to live here. Sure, there are some who throw themselves off cliffs in the midst of winter but we’re a pretty normal community most of the year. If those from corporate HQ show up, they’ll see how normal it is in Crested Butte. We can all take a walk from the center of town to the Four-way Stop about 7:30 or 8 p.m. and warm ourselves around the changing of the season.

Wild?

Untamed?

Free-spirited?

Unafraid to be colorful?

Normal?

It’s all of the above.

It appears this latest group might get it—and while not yet fluent, they’re learning the language pretty quickly. And it’s a voice heard outside the norm.

—Mark Reaman

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