If ever there was an example of a brand who are prepared to try new things in our industry it would be Salomon. Never ones to shy away from a new concept or technology, they are always pushing things forward and innovating – this season’s new S Lab X-Alp Carbon GTX Boot being a case in point. Almost a decade ago Salomon launched Freeski TV. One of the first examples of the now ubiquitous webisode concept, it has become one of the most successful online brand productions and a perfect example of how to capture an audience and build a following via a contemporary platform.
For anyone unfamiliar with Freeski TV, the concept is simple; take 2 or 3 Salomon team members to a cool location, film them shredding, then make a 5 – 10 minute video based around the trip. Crucially though, the resulting short film doesn’t just showcase the amazing talents of the skiers but also delves deeper into a wider concept, often based around local culture, or the particular way of life of the film’s subject or characters. One of the cool things about Freeski TV is that despite the fact that each film is less than 10 minutes long, the format of the films means you get to know some of the more popular Salomon pro skiers along the way too. People like Kaj Zackrisson, Chris Rubens and the main man himself Mike Douglas all feature season after season.
The trailer for upcoming episodes usually appears at the end of October and for me it marks the start of winter. As mountains all around the northern hemisphere start to turn white the stoke among the ski and snowboard community is at its peak and Freeski TV manages to tap into that better than any content out there. Each season has around 10 – 12 episodes that run between the beginning of November through to start of spring. This winter’s episodes made up the 8th season of Freeski TV and it’s as popular as ever. There are many awesome episodes of Freeski TV from over the years, here are a few I think really hit the spot.
Norway is where it’s at. In episode 3 of season 5 the Salomon Freeski crew hit Sogndal to ski the among the fjords and delve into the history of skiing in the place where people have been sliding on snow for longer than anywhere else.
The La Nina episode came in at the beginning of season 5 and it must be one of the deepest 6 minutes ever put to film.
The Euro road trip episodes pop up most years as the good times crew look for snow in the Alps. This is your quintessential Salomon Freeski TV episode. Travel, powder and lots of laughs.
Another classic episode saw Freeski TV hit this remote spot in Russia that used to host cold war meetings. It clearly made a perfect location for a spot of heli skiing too!
Apart from the fact that its so well produced, Freeski TV works so well for a couple of reasons. Number 1 is the fact that it’s a whole lot of fun. Skiing is, at the end of the day, about enjoyment and Freeski TV exudes stoke. The second reason, and this is a really crucial point from a brand marketing perspective, is that Salomon stuck with it. They didn’t move on after a couple of years to something else. It could have been an easy move to put energy and resources into other projects, especially when it became apparent that pretty much every other ski and snowboard brand out there where doing a similar thing to Freeski TV. Instead they correctly recognised that they were investing their resources in the right way and as a result Freeski TV has turned into a massive success.
Salomon have always been particularly good at preserving the identity of each aspect of their brand. Because they treat each activity that they cater towards as a separate entity, they are able to maintain credibility across the board. For example, when the company made the decision to move into the snowboard market 10 or so years ago, they made sure they were careful to launch Salomon Snowboarding as detached from the skiing side of their business. This helped them break into the snowboard market and become one its biggest players, a feat that traditionally not all ski companies, mainly due to lack of credibility, have managed to achieve. This attitude means Salomon can focus their resources in specific areas and get the most out of each. It’s helped to make Freeski TV such a hit and made Salomon one of the most progressive and successful brands out there.
Community Through Content is a regular series on The Path Less Trodden which takes a look at the best creative digital content from outdoor brands and retailers.