This Ski Resort Turned One-Star Reviews Into a Five-Star Ad Campaign

'Too advanced' for Greg might be just right for you

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Turning your haters into your most effective promoters isn’t the newest trick in the marketing playbook. Bars and restaurants have been at it for years, turning negative Yelp reviews into everything from hot-selling T-shirts to dramatic monologues.

But here’s a fun twist that takes the idea to the next level, building an entire print and digital campaign around one frustrated customer’s warning, which could sound like a siren’s call to the audiences you’re truly trying to target.

Utah’s Snowbird ski resort has begun running ads that contrast gorgeous, sweeping views—the typical ski magazine fare—with one-star reviews complaining about aspects of the resort that others might find appealing.

“Too advanced,” reads a review by Greg from Los Angeles, featured in the first ad of the campaign. “I’d heard Snowbird is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute or littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun!”

Here’s the full ad running as a full magazine spread:

Snowbird marketing director David Amirault says the idea to use such reviews came up in partnership with Struck, the resort’s agency of record headquartered in Salt Lake City.

“In our initial campaign concept meeting, we came to the consensus that we needed to embrace the unique aspects of what makes Snowbird special and be true to the product we sell,” Amirault said. “We’re known for our steep terrain, long runs and deep snow. For beginner skiers and snowboarders, they often find this to be a challenge. However, for our core guest, it’s what makes them come back year after year.”

He said the creative team at Struck “dove through years of Snowbird reviews and hand selected the ones that would best work with images juxtaposing them.”

Four more creative executions will roll out in the coming weeks. Ads will appear in Freeskier, Powder, Ski, Transworld Snowboarding and Ski Utah magazines, Amirault said. There are also digital versions of the ads and content that will be posted to the resort’s social channels.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."