Some of the most memorable images of advertising by both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains from the posters that the two companies produced in the 1980s and 1990s. It is not unusual for the Whistler Museum to be contacted by someone trying to track down that last Saudan Couloir poster for their personal collection or hoping to find a copy of Whistler Mountain’s 20th anniversary poster of the flying Volkswagen. In 2015, Mike Hurst, previously the vice-president of marketing, shared stories from behind the scenes of some of Whistler Mountain’s memorable posters.
Posters were a relatively inexpensive and, based on how popular they continue to be today, effective form of advertising. Both Whistler and Blackcomb worked with Brent Lynch (the artist behind most of the Saudan Couloir posters, the flying Volkswagen, and many more) to create some of their most beloved posters. According to Hurst, though, there was usually at least one thing about the posters that he and Lynch didn’t agree on: the promotional tagline. Lynch wanted the art on the poster to represent itself, without any marketing language to distract from the message of the art; Hurst wanted every poster to include a promotional line that would be remembered by those who saw it. As Hurst put it, “I won on getting the promotional line, but he won by trying to bury it as softly as he could so you couldn’t read it.” Despite this claim, you don’t have to look too closely to find the tagline on at least one of Hurst and Lynch’s posters featuring Whistler’s Mother.
Hurst remembered that he was trying to find a way to say, as cheaply as possible that Whistler was the superior mountain to Blackcomb. He had an idea of Whistler’s Mother skiing down the mountain, riding the gondola and the lifts, and, after checking with Kastle (Whistler Mountain’s suppliers) Lynch created the image of artist James McNeill Whistler’s mother riding the Red Chair. Hurst gives his wife credit for coming up with the promotional line “Whistler, Mother always loved you best,” that was included on the poster. Blackcomb Mountain had been advertising their long runs and their status as a “Mile High Mountain” and so Hurst was glad to sneak this poster in on them.
Not all of the posters Whistler Mountain produced in the 1980s were created by Lynch. The first poster for the Ski Scamps program featured a photograph of three children with skis on top of snow, obviously dressed for a day in Ski Scamps. What you might not know from looking at the poster is that Whistler Mountain didn’t have much money for a photo shoot, the children are Hurst’s three children, the ski clothes were borrowed, and it was shot on Grouse Mountain. Apparently they had planned to shoot on a sunny day in Whistler but each time Hurst called to check the weather Whistler had fog. As the deadline for the advertising campaign approached, Hurst reached out to Gary Kiefer at Grouse and asked to “borrow his mountain.”
We have many posters in the archives from the 1970s through the 1990s, ranging from World Cup races to Music in the Mountains advertisements, but surprisingly few from the past 20 years. The posters are a great example of what events were happening in Whistler, what milestones the area was commemorating, and what art styles were popular at the time, and we are always looking to add to the collection.