Skippy, a rock-skipping robot that the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance started up last summer to promote the area to potential tourists, has been voted “best use of a robot” in Ski Area Management magazine’s annual review of resort marketing efforts.
The review, titled “Best/Worst in Marketing, 2012-13” and included in the magazine’s May issue, states that, “The media quickly found and spread the story, which led to thousands of stone skippers, all of whom provided contact information to a robot cleverly disguised as a lead generation tool.”
In marketing, a “lead” is a potential sales contact.
The Marketing Alliance employed the San Francisco-based marketing firm Eleven to develop the concept. Eleven created the idea of building a robot that would allow urban desk denizens to escape for a moment to the mountains and skip a real stone in real time on a mountain lake. Skippy was built by Spokane, Wash.,-based interactive agency 14Four and went live by a lake near Sun Valley for five days in July.
“The uniqueness of the initiative definitely helped fuel interest from a wide range of audiences,” Marketing Alliance President Arlene Schieven said.
According to figures from Schieven, Skippy caught the attention of participants from 96 countries and all 7 continents, yielding 1,708 new email signups for the Marketing Alliance’s database. Skippy’s web page was viewed 624,945 times and participants skipped 1,931 stones. The project cost the Marketing Alliance $62,000. Schieven said it would have cost about $2.7 million to purchase equivalent exposure following conventional methods.
“The results far exceeded our expectations,” Schieven said. “As for the next Skippy, we don’t have a PR stunt planned for this summer, but we’ll see what the future brings.”
Schieven said the Marketing Alliance plans to add Salt Lake City, Utah, this year to its summer campaign target list, which also includes Seattle, Wash., Los Angeles, Calif., and Boise.